Wow its been that long!
I love writing posts about Disney history and the milestone I get to celebrate today is no exception. Exactly 45 years ago, on May 30, 1967, the first ground was broken for the construction of the Walt Disney World Resort.
I really wanted to share a photo of this milestone, so I partnered with fellow Disney Parks Blog Author Nate Rasmussen and the Disney Archives to try to track some down. I’ve always been told this part of Central Florida was pretty sparse before Disney moved in, and the photos we found proved just that – miles of nothing but trees and lakes.
During our search, Nate and I found that some of the first compelling photos that exist of Walt Disney World Resort’s pre-opening were actually produced two years later, in April 1969, during a press event that gave locals their first look at what Walt Disney World Resort would be.
This “first look” took place at the Ramada Inn Tower in Ocoee, Fla. Here, invited guests could explore a tent full of scale models of Walt Disney World Resort, as well as artwork and Audio-Animatronics figures. (Oh, if us bloggers had a time machine!).
Disney leaders who spoke – and even signed autographs – at the event were what we’d consider today to be a real “who’s who” of Disney history, including Roy O. Disney, John Hench, Charlie Ridgway, Donn Tatum and Card Walker, all of whom later achieved Disney Legend status. During the event, they announced Oct. 1, 1971 as Walt Disney World Resort’s opening date, and declared that construction was officially beginning on Magic Kingdom Park and the first hotels (1967 construction included necessary roadwork and utilities).
At the event, Roy O. Disney also expressed joy in overseeing Walt’s dream of bringing a second Disney theme park to life:
“You should know that the dedication of our staff to Walt’s goals is tremendous. And I know Walt would like what his creative team is doing because these are the ideas and plans he began. Everything you will see here today is something Walt worked on and began in some way. And today, the Walt Disney organization is dedicated to carrying out these wonderful plans in Walt Disney World.”
The event’s attendees also watched a 17-minute film called “Walt Disney World – Phase 1” at the nearby Parkwood Cinema Theater. Later on, they loaded onto buses for a trip to the Walt Disney World site. At the time, Seven Seas Lagoon was still only a dry lakebed.
Mmm I love the Epcot Internation Food and Wine Festival.
This just in: the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival was named by the Travel Channel as one of the country’s top food and wine festivals. Chefs are cooking up fantastic new experiences for this year’s fest, which open September 28 and runs for a record 46 days through November 12.
There’s no better setting for noshing, sipping and wandering than Epcot’s World Showcase, with a one-of-a-kind backdrop of architectural icons from around the globe.
Fresh for 2012:
- Two new festival marketplaces: TERRA Marketplace offers vegan menu items, including Trick’n Chick’n Curry with Basmati Rice and Chili Colorado with House-Made Chips and Cashew Cheese. The FLORIDA Marketplace introduces fresh twists on regional flavors. There are more than 25 ethnic and regional marketplaces in all.
- Feel like a VIP with Marketplace Chef Tours. Each Wednesday, festival chefs host a walking-and-tasting tour around World Showcase with stops at several international marketplaces. You get to taste five marketplace dishes and five beverage items, like beer, wine and cocktails – and learn a few culinary secrets.
- More kid-friendly tastes. Kids of all ages can try inventive new sips during the family’s marketplace dine-around. Pair with yummy bites like beef empanadas and cheese fondue (new this year).
- Don’t miss (free) Eat to the Beat! Check out pop acts like Smash Mouth (October 11-12) and Javier Colon, winner of “The Voice” (October 13-14). With 18 different bands, look for Blues Traveler (November 5-6) and Dennis DeYoung, original member of STYX (November 7-8). Night Ranger kicks off the concert series September 28-30, and other returning fan favorites include Boyz II Men, The Pointer Sisters, Sister Hazel and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
- Back for an encore: look for HGTV designers, celeb chefs, culinary demos and wine seminars, and special culinary programs – more than 270 chefs are showing off for the festival. And, yes, the fab Party for the Senses returns October 6, 13, 20, 27 and November 3.
Call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) to make reservations. Information and reservations for select events and programs will be updated throughout the summer at www.disneyworld.com/foodandwine.
Since I started working at Disney, I have wanted to make a photo featuring one of our space-themed attractions in the foreground and a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral 60 miles away in the background. Well, all of the planets aligned for me this morning as I was able to capture the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching to the International Space Station in front of Mission: SPACE at Epcot. That red streak in the sky is the flame from the rocket engines over a 64-second exposure as it arced into orbit. If all goes as planned for SpaceX, this will be the first commercial launch to the International Space Station when the capsule docks in two days and brings supplies to the astronauts on board.
I can’t wait to see this in action. I kind of wish Disneyland had it as well.
Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve dreamed of owning my own droid just like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Granted, I also wanted to learn the ways of the Force, but I think having an Astromech droid will be slightly easier with the Droid Factory experience launching during Star Wars Weekends 2012. Fans will be able to build and name their own R-series Astromech droid action figures. I spoke with product developer Cody Hampton who said this experience was in development for three years!
“We began discussing the Droid Factory in 2009,” explained Cody. “We know that personalization is an important aspect of the popular build-your-own light saber experience. We felt the same thing could be done with action figures but on a much larger scale.”
Large scale indeed – the Droid Factory has 71 different pieces to create the 3 ¾-inch figures! To get started, guests chose a dome, a body and legs offered in a variety of colors and styles (Cody said that availability of various parts and colors may change). There are optional third legs and novelty hats that can be added.
“We wanted lots of options for [the Droid Factory],” continued Cody. “There are literally thousands of combinations making each droid unique. Guests can also name their droids with sticker sheets provided at checkout.”
Three domes – R6, R8 and R9 – were created exclusively for this experience at Disney Parks. Cody also told me the multi-colored ear hats were inspired by Jedi Mickey’s Astromech droid, R2-MK. Four additional hats arrive later this summer including a Goofy hat, a pirate hat, a fedora and a Yoda cap.
Cody and fellow developer Brad Schoeneberg built Astromech droids for this article.
“My favorite droid is named R7-C4,” Cody continued. “He has an orange body like my favorite clone trooper, Commander Cody. He wears the Yoda cap as a nod to the actual hat created in the 1980s when I fell in love withStar Wars.”
Brad built R9-EIU in honor of Eastern Illinois University, where he completed his bachelor’s degree. He explained, “[The droid] would have been great to have around while I was in school.”
I can’t wait to create one for my office. Happy building!
The age old question of which is better and which do you like more?
Kali River Rapids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure?
My personal choice is Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure because it offers two drops as well as more twists and turns through an impeccably themed mountain.
————UPDATE—-Soarin at Epcot in Walt Disney World and Soarin Over California at Disney California Adventures have both reopened today!———-
According to multiple sites, on Thursday May 3rd at Soarin in Epcot 2 guests were found in the corner of one of the theaters after the seatbelt checks had taken place, watching the film as the ride was cycling through. The attraction was stopped and now Disney and OSHA are looking into how this happened. Meanwhile Soarin Over California at Disney California Adventure was also closed all day as a precaution until the cause of this is ironed out.