MousePlanet Mailbag for January 20, 2005
Romance and the Disney parks
Did you propose to your fiance while watching Illuminations at
Epcot? Was your most romantic dinner at Victoria and Albert's at
the Grand Floridian?
Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and we want to hear from you!
Send us your stories (or suggestions) about Valentine's Day, love
or romance in the Disney parks! We're particularly interested in
Walt Disney World, but we'll be happy to hear about any Disney
theme park. If we run your message, we'll be glad to dedicate it
to your loved one as well.
We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot
publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers.
Ursula LeDesma-Kietzke writes:
I have heard through the grapevine that the old submarine ride is being
renovated to become a new ride with the them of Finding Nemo. Could
this possibly be true, if so I think that is a wonderfule idea. I have
been a longtime Disneyland fanatic. Although I remember the Submarine
as a young child, a new ride is always looked forwward to with great
Hi Ursula Yes, that is the current thinking, and there is coverage
of the story at most of the web sites that cover Disneyland. There is
a sub at the dock in Disneyland fitted out to review potential show effects,
though I don't know that the project has received the green light yet.
You may want to check out our weekly Disneyland Park Updates on the site
for the latest information. There are also bits of information to be had
from threads on our discussion forums.
Gregory Chin writes:
Wow, if they're removing the Exxon signage from The Universe
of Energy" pavilion, then that's the end of a great era, for sure
A stroll down memory lane (about Disney Particpant Partnerships):
I remember when I started at WDW, in 1977, Gulf Oil was the participant
gasoline company, on property. The Gulf Care Centerthe only place
to get car repairs done. I could drop off my car, and get the repairs
done, and pick up the car, later, after work.
When plans for EPCOT Center were finally announced at the International
Commerce Convention (the ICC, held in the Contemporary's Fiesta Fun
Center area, in late 1978) (I was there, working that night, in Watercraft.
We had all 3 ferryboats docked at the Contemporary's T-dock), and after
that grand annoucement, Exxon suddenly emerged as the gasoline
participant, on property!
EPCOT was to be opened in 1982, 4 years away.
It seemed like a long time off, but in retrospect, in was a short time,
as Walt Disney World underwent an amazing transformation from Magic
Kindom day trip visits, to EPCOT Center and
international visitors, and possible week-long vacation stays.
Walt Disney World's and Disney Imagineering's (known as WED Enterprises
at the time) manufacturing capabilities increased exponentially, to
get certain EPCOT Center attractions built, on site.
Next thing you know, Exxon, General Electric, General Motors, Kraft,
and Kodak, and The Bell System (later as AT&T) all signed up for EPCOT
pavilions in 1978.
Eastern Airlines was still the Official Disney Airline, until they
severed their participants contract, years later, (maybe 1986- 87) and
then they were aviation company history, after they left the Disney
Delta took over that role, henceforth the Delta's Dreamflight
rehab, by 1990.
Same thing happened to Premier Cruise Lines, during the mid 1990's.
I think the cruise line was dreaming of having Universal Studios and
Sea World characters, aboard their Big Red Boats, and not just Disney
When Metropolitan Life annouced plans to sponsor the Wonders
of Life pavilion, in 1986, WDW cast members had their medical
and life insurance policies, switch to MetLife Insurance policies.
Today, it would seem that Disney Co. is equally hurt by the loss of
each participant, as the Disney attractions and participant names are
no longer instantly identifiable.
When United Technologies Corp., didn't renew The Living Seas
sponsorship, that was a steep loss, indeed. The UTC Lounge, overlooking
the 5.7 million gallon saltwater environment, was definitely, the best
one of all, hands down!
I miss those days, when The Living Seas Pavilion was the latest and
greatest achievement, at EPCOT.
Ex-Disney Cast Member and Walt Disney Animation Artist (from 1977 thru
Later, at FOX Animation Studios, in Phoenix, AZ. (1995 thru 2000)
Now living in Reno, Nevada.
Hi Gregory What a great recap of Disney theme park history! It's
amazing how much has changed since the days when Walt's E.P.C.O.T. became
EPCOT Center. The company and the parks have changed so much. Thanks for
writing! (And if you have any inside stories, please feel free to pass
A MousePlanet reader who forgot to include their return email
address or name writes:
The new Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Kit video, which focuses
on Magical Gatherings, refers to Disney-MGM Studios as Disney
Studios. Guests refer to it with the MGM redacted, and the video
even shows the archway entrance to the animation area with the MGM removed,
either physically or digitally. Disney's web site still lists it as
Disney-MGM Studios, however.
Is this an official name change for the park? Of course, the other
studios parks all don't have MGM in their name, but is the Orlando park
Hi there. I'm answering this in the mailbag, since I couldn't respond
to you directly.
This is a common topic of discussion on Disney-related message boards,
and the generally held belief is fairly consistent. Basically, the deal
that Disney signed with MGM gave Disney the rights to use the name on
the theme park (along with using some of the movie scenes in the Great
Movie Ride), but Disney did not get the right to use the name on electronic
media. Don't look for the name to change until the contract ends.
I am going to Walt Disney World in December. I have gone many times
and stayed at the Polynesian in the '80s and '90s. I am having trouble
communicating with them about the room, and building I want. do you
know how to find out who I can e-mail to get help so I get the right
I have had my AAA agent call several times and get differant answers.
When I email disneyworld customer relations they prefer I go through
my AAA agent because they booked my trip. Catch 22.
Part of the problem is they changed the names of the buildings at
the Polynesian. I stayed at the Tonga with concierge service before.
Now they said the name is the Hawaii, which on my map is not the right
building. Is there a manager or higher up I can contact?
Hi Jerry The Tonga building was indeed renamed to Hawaii in 1999,
when just about every building was renamed for a true Polynesian island.
For reference, a map with the current name of each building is located
at MousePlanet here (link).
For reference purposes, here are the current and former names of all
of the buildings:
- Tonga (formerly Bali Hai)
- Aotearoa (formerly Tahiti)
- Tuvalu (formerly Samoa)
- Hawaii (formerly Tonga)
- Samoa (formerly Hawaii)
- Niue (formerly Bora Bora)
- Rarotonga (formerly Maori)
- Tokelau (formerly Oahu)
- Tahiti (formerly Moorea)
- Rapa Nui (formerly Pago Pago)
If you'd like to contact the Polynesian directly, their phone number
is (407) 824-2000 and their fax number is (407) 824-3174.
Enjoy your vacation!
In response to Disney
vs. Reality, Mark's comparison of Disney's new Saratoga Springs
with the real thing in New York, Lori Connors writes:
Hey Mark! We stayed at Saratoga Springs for 2 weeks this summer in
one of the 1 bedroom villas. It is an amazing place for a vacation!
The grounds are beautiful and constantly kept up with, the cast was
unbelievable, the location is awesome (quiet but still Disney and so
close to Downtown). I cannot say enough good things about our experience
here, we would advise everybody to try it! They will come back! Have
a great day!
Hi Lori I'm looking forward to taking a look around the resort
when I'm down for MouseFest in December. It seems to be most reminiscent
of Old Key West in its room size and layout and building configuration.
I agree that the DVC resorts are a great place to stay. Thanks for writing!
Jason Williams writes:
A couple of weeks ago I was riding in the front Monorail car with my
son, and the driver told us, Mike Eisner is deciding now
on whether the new underwater attraction would either be a tie-in to
Atlantis or Finding Nemo.
Certainly Nemo would make more sense in terms of visitor appeal,
but would that be making too much of a nod to Pixar? Then again, the
driver may not have known what she was talking about. Does Eisner really
decide that sort of thing?
Hi Jason Our best information is still that they're looking at
a Nemo-inspired attraction. Many times, cast members will pass
along information that is strictly hearsay, or even just wishful thinking.
If we hear anything different, we will indeed publish it.
And yes, Michael Eisner does indeed get that involved in the decision
regarding attractions. He had the original opening of the ExtraTERRORestrial
Alien Encounter delayed at Walt Disney World so that they could rework
the attraction. He made the decision to redo the Journey Into Your Imagination
attraction at Epcot immediately upon riding it right after it opened.
He is known as a very hands-on executive.
Someone told me there might be a Buzz Lightyear ride taking the place
of the old Rocket Rods ride. Is that true? Do you know? If so, please
Hi Lindsay Yes, Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters will be going
into the old Circlevision theater in Disneyland. We've been following
the progress of the attraction for a year now in the weekly Disneyland
Update. You might want to look through the last year's worth of Updates
for all of the information.
Jeffry Jauken writes:
I read your site daily, im going to Disney in Florida in early December.
I know this is probably a weird question but does Disney offer any perks
in the park for Disney stockholders? If i mention it to a cast member,
can I expect anything special?
Hi Jeff Sad to say, there have been no shareholder perks for at
least 10-15 years now. There used to be free or discounted Magic Kingdom
Club membership and discounted hotel rates, but no more. I doubt that
you'd get any reaction from a CM, either. Sorry.
Mark ran a two-part in his Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda series of his World
View column, in which former Imagineer Paul Torrigino wrote about the
cancelled project for Animal Kingdom's planned Beastlie Kingdomme land
(part 1, part
2). As you can imagine, the articles generated a lot of interest,
and our feedback reflects this.
Mas Nishimura writes:
Hi. Wow! a terrific ride, but while reading this, I couldn't help thinking
about Bilbo and the Dwarves against Smaug in the Hobbit.
Doubt that it would happen, but that would be an interesting tie in.
Thanks for all the intresting stories!
Glenn Vines writes:
Wrote a couple weeks ago after part 1 a couple weeks ago. Just wanted
to follow up and thank you. Indeed I hope Disney recognizes the unique
attraction and adds it. With the undertaking of Expedition Everest,
I'm guessing a major addition like this will probably not come around
real soon. Anyway one can positively write Disney in support?
Hi again, Glenn I think that it would be wonderful for Disney
to build Dragon Tower, or indeed all of Beastlie Kingdomme, but I doubt
that it will ever happen. Between the investment that they've made to
upgrade the theater for the Lion King show and the fact that mythological
creatures are now being moved into the other lands of the park (the Yeti
at Expedition Everest), I doubt that Beastlie Kingdomme will ever see
the light of day.
I doubt that any write-in campaign would do any good. It didn't save
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride or Horizons from closing, I don't see how it could
bring an attraction back from never having been built in the first place.
Good thought, though. Ah, well. As Marc Davis used to say, No good
idea ever really dies at Imagineering.
Dave Parker writes:
I have really enjoyed your recent articles regarding what would
have been over at Disney's Animal Kingdom, namely that of Beastlie
Kingdomme. Just finding out that was the proposed spelling of the expansion
as opposed to the often assumed Beastly Kingdom spelling
was a treat in itself.
I was recently at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and this series of articles
got me thinking when I was in the Camp Minnie Mickey section of the
Park. In fact, on the bridge leading from Discovery Island to Camp Minnie-Mickey,
I was able to spot a rock formation in the shape of a Dragon's head,
as well as what appears to be the teaser cave used for the
early boat tour.
I was wonering if you could have Paul Torrigino elaborate on these
items which were actually built, seemingly the only reminants of this
never built land.
I can send my pictures to you if you wish to review/use them.
Hi Dave Thanks for your kind words about the story. I'll forward
your note to Paul to see if he has anything to add. At this point, we
don't have an upcoming use for photos of the dragon's cave and we don't
add photos to stories retroactively, but I'd love to see the pictures
Former Imagineer Paul Torrigino responds:
Thanks for writing. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. It was fun to
remember Beastlie Kingdomme, I hadn't thought about it in years.
The Dragon cave you saw originally had dragon sound effects and a burst
of flame that was staged for the Discovery river boats to see. I think
it was running just when the park opened, but they closed it soon after.
I don't think anything else of Beastlie Kingdomme was actually built
except for some suits of armor that were going to be staged around the
Joe Rhode designed the little cave teaser at that point. I was busy
over in Dinoland, so I don't know much more about it than what I said.
Susan Ledging writes:
Wow, I loved this article about what might have been for Animal Kingdom's
Beastlie Kingdomme. The whole land sounds really neat, and that dragon
tower ride sounds like an awesome one. I think they should go ahead
and build the whole land! Animal Kingdom needs more life and more interesting
things to do, so it can become a full day park like the others.
I didn't even visit the Camp Minnie Mickey section of the park until
three years after I first visited the park, because I was under the
impression that there was nothing of interest there. I was right, except
for the Festival of the Lion King.
Personally, I believe Beastlie Kingdomme would be a big hit and a major
draw to people who might otherwise not even visit Animal Kingdom. I
know I would love to spend hours in a Medieval setting with Mother Goose
stores and unicorn mazes and cool rides in a castle! Thanks for this
article! Maybe we can begin a petition or something to let Disney know
that people want this land built!
Hi Susan I'm glad that you enjoyed the article. I'll send along
a copy of your note to Paul Torrigino, who wrote the story.
I think that it would be wonderful for Disney to build Beastlie Kingdomme,
but I doubt that it will ever happen. Between the investment that they've
made to upgrade the theater for the Lion King show and the fact that mythological
creatures are now being moved into the other lands of the park (the Yeti
at Expedition Everest), I doubt that Beastlie Kingdomme will ever see
the light of day. A real shame. Ah, well. As Marc Davis used to say, "No
good idea ever really dies at Imagineering."
Paul Torrigino responds:
Thanks for writing. I'm glad you enjoyed the article.
I agree with you that Beastlie Kingdomme would have been a great addition
to the park, but as Mark said, it's unlikely they will ever do it the
way it was originally planned. Maybe they will do a smaller version
of it someday.
You know at the time when we were working on it I remember thinking
that it was too good to be true - especially because it didn't tie in
to any major Disney film (except for the Fantasia boat ride). It was
all original. They don't do many of those anymore.
Thoughts, questions, or comments specifically for Mark?
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