Oct 172012

By Kevin Smithson

Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom was as much in an unplanned state during its early years as Disneyland’s was. The general layout was two signature buildings on either side of an entrance plaza. A racing track attraction, an indoor roller coaster and, for a while, quite a few bodies of water. Early plans route the monorail from the Persian resort through Tomorrowland with a station found inside the land.

By 1970 with construction underway, plans still changed regularly. By October 1971, the buildings were finalized however there was still a lot of empty space and unfinished plans for what would eventually fill the space. The main route into Tomorrowland would be flanked by two water features on the hub walkway, though these plans would go through several revisions before concrete was actually poured. The rush was on to finish what could be finished by opening day.

On October 1, 1971, Tomorrowland opens with two attractions. The southern end of the land is still a building site and even at that point, plans were still changing. The final entrance design had a pair of sloping concrete walls on either side of the plaza bridge; water would cascade down the slopes and fall from the top of a pair of 85 feet high ‘monoliths.’ At first the waterfalls on the slopes weren’t visible enough; the row of jets wasn’t that strong. Soon after opening ‘ripples’ were built onto the slopes to break the falling water more.

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Dec 282011

By: Rikki Niblett

It was a crazy year again for the Disney Parks. Lots of great things happened and a ton of new attractions opened. Some attractions reopened after lengthy refurbishments. We also lost a few things and a brand new Disney destination premiered. So, we here at Magically Speaking thought we’d taking a look at some of the biggest news stories that happened with Disney this year.

First, 2011 started off a little sadly with Mickey’s Toontown Fair closing at the Magic Kingdom. Many were heartbroken to see this area go, but with the new Fantasyland approaching for 2012 it was a necessary evil. This was the last land added to the Magic Kingdom and the first to ever close at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Debuting on both coasts in January was The Magic, The Memories, and You. This show is projected on Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom and it’s a small world at Disneyland. For many, I think this show was a surprise hit (I know it was for me!). It’s so amazing to see what technology can do! It truly is a remarkable show and if it doesn’t leave you with a tear in your eye, I don’t know what will. Continue reading »

Jul 272011

The living area of a Bay Lake Tower villa.

By:  Rhonna Costabile

Did you ever find yourself wondering whether or not you should join the Disney Vacation Club? You see the kiosks all over the place or you see the billboards – taunting you with “the best kept secret”. As a member myself, I will gladly point out some of the more significant advantages and disadvantages to help you make a decision one way or the other.

The Disney Vacation Club program is point based, and you have the freedom and flexibility to use your points however and whenever you want. Each year, you will receive a new allotment of points and you also have the option to bank (putting the points aside for the following year) or borrow points (taking points from the next year’s coffers) if you are wanting to do a Disney vacation but don’t have enough points for the room type you are looking at or you want to vacation longer than your year’s points will allow. I will spare you the grueling details of all of that. Continue reading »

May 182011

Planning a trip for a group of middle school students to Walt Disney World can be daunting.  With that being said, it gets to be a little easier when you participate in a Youth Education Series (YES) program, as Disney tailors the trip specifically for each individual group.

According to Disney, the YES Programs give students real-world learning experiences at Disney Theme Parks and provide new found insights, skills and knowledge to motivate and inspire students.  These classes are available for elementary, middle, junior and senior high school students of all ages from around the world.

The Disney YES series has programs geared toward different age levels, skills, and interests.  Since our group was a drama troop, we chose programs that revolved around this interest.

The first program we participated in was Disney’s Production Arts and Sciences course which took place at Hollywood Studios.  We got to the park about an hour before opening, where our facilitators met us at the front gate and walked us to the area around Tower of Terror.  The Cast Members were very energetic and piqued the kid’s interest in the activities immediately.

First, the students participated in a mock production activity including staging scenes, costuming, directing, and taking pictures of the scenes.  After this experience we learned about storyboarding and taking a concept from an idea to reality.

One of the more exciting things was that the students actually got the chance to ride Tower of Terror as one of the first groups that morning.  Once off the attraction, we discussed more about the theme of the ride and how this particular ride went from concept to reality.

Our next stop was on the Streets of America.  Our facilitators shared with us some of the tricks in using perspective to make things seem bigger, smaller, and life-like.  The kids were amazed at how some of the buildings looked large and real far away but once you were in front of them they could see that they were actually small and only a picture!

The program ended with a stop over at the Backlot Tour.  We got to watch the opening special effects section and then moved to the back of the area to finish up with our curriculum.  From start to finish we were there for almost 3 hours!

Disney offers one YES program free to each group and charges a small amount per person for a second one.  Our group decided the cost was worth it, so we paid to participate in a second program that took us behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Downtown Disney.

As a requirement to being able to take part in this particular YES program, we had to attend a performance prior to experiencing the backstage tour.  My students loved the show and talked about it as being one of the highlights of their trip.

We arrived at Downtown Disney Westside and went to the Cirque du Soleil theater where we met with our facilitator who shared with us a little background information about not only the performance group Cirque du Soleil, but also about the Disney-specific show, La Nouba.  Then, we were taken inside and backstage!

During our tour we were shown the costume room, shoe room, make up room, practice room, the green room, backstage, and even under the stage. Finally, we actually got the opportunity to walk ON the stage and got to look out at the seats.  The students were able to feel the special floor needed for the show and were shown where the floor would open for the special performers that came from underneath.  Our YES program facilitator shared with us facts and special information regarding the performers, the theater, and the show itself.  For example, did you know that the building the show is housed in was built specifically for La Nouba?

We did not have the opportunity to meet any of the performers, since they do not come to the theater until a few hours before the performance; however, just seeing the facilities where they worked was amazing!  Toward the end of our program we were taken outside of the theater and shown how to do the Diablo (a yo-yo like activity that is shown during the show).  My students loved trying this and several even bought a Diablo set to take home with them.

Our YES experience was wonderful and many of the students said that the programs were some of the things that they enjoyed most about our Disney World trip.

Disney makes it easy and fun to bring a group like this.  Plus, it also makes it more interesting and special to the kids as they get to go behind in the scenes while learning about Disney at the same time.

Disney offers special package pricing for groups traveling for a YES program and they have dedicated staff to help answer any questions and schedule groups and programs.  During our process they were extremely helpful and instrumental in helping our trip be a magical trip for all involved.

The YES Program is available at both the Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resorts.  For more information about the Youth Education Series Programs, visit http://www.disneyyouth.com/youth-education-series/


Mar 092011

By Naomi M.


My kids and I had the fortune to stay at the Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland from February 8 through February 14, 2011. We have now stayed at all three Disneyland Resort hotels, and I have to say that the family consensus is that the Paradise Pier Hotel is our favorite.


We booked a Concierge Theme Park View room with an annual pass discount, so we checked in on the second floor in the lounge. Due to a shortage of our room type, we were upgraded to a Family Suite with a gorgeous view of the back side of the World of Colorshow. I wanted to include this information because we did not experience the same check-in experience or room type as normal, but I want to say that I never saw a lengthy line at the front desk in the lobby. Also, when there was an increase in the number of people checking in, there always seemed to be an increase in the number of Cast Members at the desk.

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Feb 092011

By Teresa Pitman

I have to confess that the first time I went to Disneyland — after many trips to Walt Disney World — I was kind of disappointed. I missed the feeling I got in WDW of being in an entirely separate world, because I could see the ordinary buildings in the background behind the Disneyland rides. Disneyland felt tiny (not to mention that many of the rides were in the wrong place!). I did eventually learn to love it (the Pirates ride is definitely better there) and that feeling was strengthened when I took the “Walking in Walt’s Footsteps” tour last August.

We met at the tour booth near the Disneyland entrance. Our tour guide, Ryan, was wearing the traditional plaid vest, and it was soon clear that he not only knew a lot about Walt, and about Disneyland, but that he was quite inspired and enthusiastic about it. We had earphones so we could easily hear him as he took us at an easy pace around the park.

Ryan shared much of the history of the park with us, and talked about what the rides and ideas meant to Walt. I loved the feeling that I was literally walking in Walt’s footsteps and riding rides that he himself had designed and enjoyed.

PartnersRyan pointed out famous “partners” statue, which shows Walt and Mickey Mouse. He told us that Walt didn’t really want a statue of himself, but when his staff insisted, he said “If you have to do it, make me taller.” So he’s one inch taller in the statue than he was in real life.

The road to creating Disneyland was not a smooth one, and Ryan emphasized how important the support of Walt’s brother, Roy, was in making it happen. It was Walt who had the creative vision, but Roy who had the ability to find investors, manage the money and keep things on track.
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