secrets

Big Red's Disney Bootcamp: The Myth and Truth's of Hidden Mickey's

I am sure that you have heard about the mysterious Hidden Mickey’s. I also bet you have probably wondered what they actually are. There has even been, in recent years, an almost cult like following to find new ones throughout Disney Parks.

I can even admit that I even given into the obsession to find them. I have even purchased a copy of the very popular book by Mr. Steven Barrett to familiarize myself with the crazy sweeping the population. Wikipedia has even dedicated a page to the entire subject. There’s even an app for that!
Hidden Mickey Book Now, I cannot find dates when they started to create them, but what I can say is there are Hidden Mickey’s in the Snow White Movie so they have been around since 1937 when the movie was released. This is big business and is pretty fun trying to locate them. Look on rocks, bridles for the horses on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, every Resort, motion pictures, TV series, cruise lines. You name it, there most likely will be a Hidden Mickey somewhere.

Now, cheating as I have in the past, the book is very helpful for the beginner to get you familiar with them but once you have located a few yourself, it is so much fun running around trying to find others not listed in the books. However, I can with all certainty tell you that this has been going on for a very long time and everyone knows all about them. If you’re lucky, you can even ask a Cast Member wherever you may be and see if they know of any in that particular location. At our Canadian Pavilion, we can even tell you that if you look up, WAAAAAAAY UP on one of our totem poles, you will even see a Hidden Mickey if you look closely. It was even a special task for us in Le Cellier, the amazing Canadian steakhouse to create Hidden Mickey’s for our guests.

There are deliberate ones, like I just mentioned, but thousands of ones that have been secretly placed in some pretty incredible places. Snow White movie…….you see it? Ummmmm can you imagine a GIANT one in Hollywood Studio’s that can only be seen from the skies? (Note, this was before the giant Sorcerer Hat was added.)

How about in WISHES the nighttime spectacular fireworks high above?

Animal Kingdom Lodge towering over you whilst you check-in?
Maelstrom, Norway’s boat ride in EPCOT, while you wait in line?

Hollywood Studio’s………from the manhole covers on the ground to the front of most of the cars in the afternoon parades to the outside the buildings down Hollywood Boulevard, they are everywhere.

Even the Water Parks are getting into the act with splash pools and if you look at the lifeguard stands, you might find one in the least expected places and those, those are the most coveted ones. No matter where you go, what you’re watching, be on the look out for these hidden gems. It is a fun little game you can join in, it’s a FREEBIE and gives you something extra to do whilst waiting in a queue line somewhere. Don’t be surprised i[warning][/warning]f you find others walking around the Parks with a little book to assist them in hunting down the elusive Hidden Mickey.  Good luck locating your own.

Now, I have to go, I have an exciting day at Blizzard Beach Water Park ahead of me and I hear that there is a Hidden Mickey at Mt.Gushmore I need to find.
Until next time:
TTF

Tracey

Big Red's Disney Bootcamp: 2011 Review and what's new for 2012

‘Tis the season to review what the last 12 months has offered and Theme Park Canuck is certainly not going to be left behind so I am going to take the opportunity to review what amazing and well……magical things Disney has certainly accomplished in 2011 and what exciting things are in store for us in 2012. In no particular order:

1. Star Tours Refurbishment

Star Tours 2.0

Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World provided their guests a long awaited referb and update.  Bringing all the magic and thrills of Star Wars back to the forefront. More than 50 stories themes are being offered in 3D.  New characters and worlds will offer the chance to fight alongside of some of our beloved characters.  I actually enjoyed my time in October with Darth Vader who joined me on my quest.
2. Aulani
Aulani
Nestled on the Island of Oahu, the brand new shiny Vacation Club Resort is a masterpiece of all that is Disney. 360 Hotel rooms & 481 Vacation Club suites collaborating the customs and cultures of the Island and the magic of Disney. Aulani is the newest destination offering incredible views, experiencing and a chance to explore the lands.   21 enchanting acres in fact,  filled with snorkeling lagoons, grand villas and an abundance of Pixie Dust.   You may even find Mickey & Minnie in grass skirts somewhere out on a beach as the sun sets if you really look closely.
3. Avatarland
Avatar Land
 James Cameron’s movie about a fantasy world will be joining the Disney family in 2013 but was announced earlier this year causing some major excitement.  Several acres of land  in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park will offer attractions, entertainment, the amazing animatronics Disney has been accustom to delighting us with.   With a reported $500 Million dollar budget, Pandora is going to give guests an incredible look inside this fantasyland.
4. The Disney Dream- Disney Cruise Line’s Newest addition
Aqua Duck on Disney Fantasy & Dream
Jan 26,2011 was the maiden voyage for this youngster in the Disney Cruise Lines fleet.  The Dream offers 4000 passengers the opportunity to sail on the state of the art masterpiece. and is, just some trivia for you, is the 10th largest ship in the world currently.  11 night clubs and lounge, kids and teens areas and the most impressive dining in the fleet thus far.  A plethora of sporting options, a basketball court, a mini-golf course and the glowing piece DE la resistance, the Aqua Duck. The 765 foot long water coaster is exhilarating to say the least and everyone will have to take a whirl.
6. Carsland
Cars Land
This brand new, super detailed land is scheduled to debut at Disney California Adventure this coming summer. Look for brand new attractions and ways to interact with the characters from Cars like never before. This is the biggest expansion in DCA’s history, all part of the 1 billion they are spending to fix the former retail & dining oriented park and turn it into a full day park worthy of the Disney name.
5. New Fantasyland
New Fantasyland
In a two stage process, Walt Disney World will offer some fantastic new attractions and restaurants that haven’t been seen in some time. Two new rides, Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid and The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster.  A new castle which the Beast will inhabit and the second castle for the Park. The 550 seat “Be our Guest” sit down restaurant will also be a welcomed addition. Dumbo will just be moved slightly double in capacity, unofficially dubbed “Dueling Dumbos.”  The expansion has disturbed Fantastyland for much of the year but will be well worth the wait.
All in all, Disney Parks offered more than I could possibly include in this blog but that means that you have more exciting things to see and do at Disney Parks.  As a New Year is about to commence, I wish for prosperity and joy and a lifetime of happiness to all that read this blog.  2012 is proving to be an incredible year with so many things to explore at the Parks so get out there and find your own magic.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a date with the Fairy Godmother and I don’t want to keep her waiting because my slippers are only good for……well, you know the story I’m sure. 😉

Happy New Year’s!!

So until next time, TTFN!!

Tracey

Big Red's Disney Bootcamp: First Visit Expectations


Your friends have all been, your co-workers go all the time, and it seems like your neighbours are there every week. Take it for someone who knows, your first time at Walt Disney World needs to be an enjoyable one. A trip that will be so amazing, so spectacular, that you’ll want to visit again and again. Both your kids and The Walt Disney Company are looking forward to that! A lot of different things influence how your vacation plays out: budget, who you’re with, weather, ect. Some of these you have control over, and others you don’t. I could literally write a book about Disney Vacation Planning, but here are a few of my favourite tips to start you off on the right foot:

You won’t do it all

Look, first things first, you will not and I repeat, not……see everything on your first visit. Get that idea right out of your head. Say it with me “I will not see everything at Walt Disney World on my trip.” This phrase will come in very handy the day you sleep in, or when Dumbo breaks down. Learn it, love it, Live it. We all know a Becky. Becky went for her first visit with her family and they did EVERYTHING. I’m really happy for Becky, but I can tell you they missed out on more than a few things to do. And that’s ok!

How long should you visit?

The first step is to figure out how long you’re going to want to go. There are many, many options awaiting you on a visit to Walt Disney World. Not only do you have 4 full Parks to enjoy, but you also have 2 Water Parks, the shops at Downtown Disney, and a slew of Resorts to meander through. Not to mention the other, non-Disney attractions that surround you. SeaWorld, Universal Orlando, Busch Gardens, Gatorland, the brand-spanking-new Legoland, Outlet Shopping, and dare I even mention it, The Holy Land Experience. WHEW!!  Again, never going to see EVERYTHING in one visit.

What should I see?

I really recommend that if you going to do Disney, then keep it strictly Disney. Forget trying to pack it all together in 1 day of Parks and then perhaps renting a car to drive to the beach, you need to focus. I suggest that you take at LEAST 7 days.  Sounds OUTRAGEOUS but if you’re gonna do it, do it right. You have 4 Parks, they are not all the same in size and there will be lots, and I mean lots of walking involved. The Water Parks are so much fun as well, not to mention the 2 mini golf locations on property and Downtown Disney with shops and restaurants and Cirque Du Soleil- La Nouba. You see now what I am talking about. Plan to do 1 Park per day. Yes, it’s great to park hop (the art of visiting more than 1 park in a day), but you may spend more time travelling than you do in the parks. I would perhaps throw in a Water Park or Downtown Disney in-between park days so that you’re not overwhelmed with children (it will happen!) and people and characters and, well……Disney.

Have your parks, and sleep too!

Whichever Park you decide to start with, you have so much to do and only a finite amount of time to do it. You will want to ensure you get the most bang for your buck. If you plan on sleeping in on this vacation, don’t worry, most of the Parks are at least open until 9 or 10 pm. There are also the wonderful days when Disney Resorts offer Extra Magic Hours (or tragic hours for those that work there!). These special hours offer you either an early entry into the Parks prior to the general public, or later hours that extend your fun well into the wee hours. You can grab a guide at your resort when you check-in that details what they are for the week. The best part of Extra Magic Hours is the incredible opportunity to go at your own pace and stretch your time in the parks.

Park Tip

You want a hint, start at the back of the Parks. I know there are those of you that disagree with this comment but if hundreds of guests are crowding the Park at the very same time you decided to go, where is everyone going to start? People with strollers can only move so quickly! So, make yourself look like a seasoned expert and grab a Park map when you get inside the gates and head to the back.
For the love of H2O
Please do yourself and the Disney Paramedics a favour: Keep drinking water to stay hydrated. Florida is generally a hot and humid place. Your going to be moving and sweating, using up your fluids. It’s very easy to get dehydrated when it’s 35 degrees Celsius (that’s 95 for the Americans). Take a water bottle and skip the $3.00 Dasani. There are fountains at every bathroom, and there are tons of bathrooms.
Take these tips and set the right expectations for your vacation before you set off to the airport. You will be skipping your way through each day of your vacation.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have tickets for La Nouba at Downtown Disney and I hear it is REALLY GOOD!!

Until next time,
TTFN

Haunted Mansion Secrets- Hidden Jack Skellingtons

The Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World

Discovering Hidden Secrets of the Haunted Mansion

Back when I was a Cast Member at Walt Disney World, I had the amazing opportunity to take a backstage tour of The Haunted Mansion. Now this was no ordinary tour, as we got to walk the entire ride and even enter the famous ballroom. This tour is only allowed for Disney Cast Members due to the intimate nature as well as the insurance issues involved. We literally walked within inches of the ballroom dancer animatronics as they twirled around and around. The best part of this tour was learning about the hidden Jack Skellingtons throughout the ride.

Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland

Why The Haunted Mansion Holiday never happened at WDW

During this Cast Member only version of The Haunted Mansion tour, we got the insiders details on the story behind the hidden Jacks. It seems that WDW wanted to get their own version of Haunted Mansion Holiday like the one at Disneyland, but after surveying guests and doing some research they discovered that while Disneyland’s guests are mainly locals who can always pop back once the rider is open again, while Walt Disney World caters to a more worldwide guest mix who at best visit every couple of years, or at worst only once in a lifetime. As it requires a month or so to change out the sets for this holiday version of the ride, these once in a lifetime guests can’t ride this famous attraction (and don’t have the option to come back.) When Disney Imagineering needed to shut down the ride for some well needed maintenance and new effects installed, international guests were very angry when the ride went down for just a few weeks. Shutting down the ride for this long is not usual, but you must remember the ride is generally running nonstop for over 12 hours a day, 365 days a year! Disney realized they didn’t want to disappoint guests or make them angry like that every, single year. They simply could not close a signature ride for a few weeks every year.
 

Doom Buggy Blueprints

This is where the story gets interesting

As a compromise to the disappointed attractions hosts, when The Haunted Mansion went down for refurbishment, Imagineering placed some hidden Jack Skellingtons within the ride. Now to be clear, these are in plain view of the guests on the ride, but almost impossible to spot if you have never seen them or don’t have the luxury to walk the ride after hours. They are visible in photos, but as a courtesy to other guests you wouldn’t want to impede on their experience by using the flash on your camera. There is really no way for a regular guest to see them. We weren’t allowed to take any photos of the tour other than from the perspective of a guest, meaning in a Doom Buggy with the lights off. The next time you ride the Haunted Mansion you can play spot the Hidden Jacks!

The hidden in plain sight attic book

1. Jack is on the book in the library flat on the floor to the right side of the Doom Buggy, in front of the table and to the left of the chair.

2. Located to the far right as you enter the attic scene. You almost need to turn backwards to five-o-clock to see a stuffed figure of Jack on a shelf.

3. To the left side of the Doom Buggy in the middle of the floor as you round the corner in the attic, it is the easiest to spot as it’s illuminated from above. Jack is clearly visible on the book cover.

4. The fourth is really two that are to the hardest to see. Look right, about 3-o-clock and back pretty far as just as you are leaving the attic. It’s a Jack Skellington snow-globe and Sally stuffed toy.

Hidden Jack Locations-

One more fun fact

Another cool fact is that the floating Madame Leota in the séance room uses top-secret proprietary technology for the realistic facial projection (not kidding). So valuable to Disney  that if the pressure sensitive mats along the ride path are triggered, it gets pulled to the ceiling using a wire it’s attached to. This way no one can hop over the railing, steal it and sell it on eBay. Pretty cool!