Animal Kingdom in 1998

Last year, Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrated 20 years of being “not a zoo.” The park opened on Earth Day in 1998 (April 22). This was the first U.S. Disney park to open during my adult lifetime (I was a teenager when EPCOT Center opened in 1982). I considered making a trip out for the grand opening, but decided I’d wait a bit and let the crowds settle.

I wish I had visited earlier, because by the time I saw it in October 1998, things had already started changing — including the removal of one original attraction!

But I digress…

I wanted to share a sample of what it was like experiencing this park for the first time.

While I was walking towards the entrance, I noticed how beautiful the greenery was. This light caught my attention:

Disney’s Animal Kingdom parking area light October 17, 1998.

I don’t remember what it said not the rock, or if that is even still there. I’ll look for it my next trip.

I remember it being a long walk to get to the entrance.

Walking to the entrance of DAK on October 17, 1998.

I remember being amazed when I saw this waterfall. What a great entrance for this new park!

The waterfall entrance on October 17, 1998.

A minute later, and I would realize this was not the entrance at all. It was the Rainforest Cafe! Neat. Of course, today, you can’t even see the waterfall from here. The trees have grown in and blocked that view.

The real entrance was cool, but now I was a bit let down.

The DAK entrance on October 17, 1998.

I don’t recall what that truck was doing, but I’m betting it was trying to sell tickets to Pleasure Island 😉

I could continue with these photos and take you on a tour of my day, but instead we’ll stick to the outside of the park. Back then, the trees were freshly planted:

The trees needed a bit of help on October 17, 1998.

Even though it didn’t open with the park, we were still pretty excited to see what might come when the fantasy animal realm (Beastly Kingdom) was added. You could see the dragon in the logo, so we knew it would be happening…

Original DAK logo featuring the Dragon on October 17, 1998.

I’m still waiting.

I’ll end with two pictures from the outside of Rainforest Cafe. Click to open the full-size gallery:

I’m not sure how much the inside has changed since I never spent much time in it after this first trip. I got to visit the first three Rainforest Cafes in the Chicago area, so I already had my T-shirt collection started.

There. Now I’ve given Walt Disney World a bit more love. But they will be much, much more love to give in future installments.

Until then…

My Haunted Mansion text adventure from 2002.

Apologies for digressing away from digital photo essays for a moment, but I thought I’d share something else from my archives.

Growing up in the 1970s with a dad who liked gadgets, I was exposed to lots of early digital tech. I recall playing PONG at a Shakees pizza parlor with my father, and him bringing home the first home PONG game (and various others afterwards, including the very first Atari VCS game console). In the early 1980s, instead of getting me a new game machine, he suggested a home computer. In 1982, I became a computer nerd. (For more on this, you can visit my Sub-Etha Software site and see screen shots of some of the early “video games” I wrote.) It was through that early home computer that I first learned of text adventures which, at some point, became “interactive fiction.” (I think this is the same type of thing as comic books becoming graphic novels.)

But I digress. From my digression. I think.

After being laid off from my tech job after 9/11, I was looking for work and trying to learn “new” skills. (This layoff is why there is a one-year gap in my Disney photos around that time.)

I thought this “Java” thing sounded interesting*, so I got a book and started learning it. Since many roads lead to Disney with me, I decided to write something Disney related. I decided to write a text adventure based on the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom.

*Side Note: I actually had been working at the first company to license SUN’s Java for embedded use, and one of my coworkers was on the Embedded Java committee at the time. It sounded funner for me to treat it as something new and quaint, considering how old and almost obsolete it is these days.

The start of my Haunted Mansion text adventure written in Java back in 2002.

When coming up with an adventure game, one of the first things you create is a map showing all he locations. Since the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom versions both were a bit different (load area, Library room only at Magic Kingdom, different locations of Little Leota, etc.), I decided I would create a map that could represent either Mansion, depending on which route you took as you moved through the game.

Here’s the map, representing a two story building with an attic. (The graveyard was not yet mapped out.)

You would start in the foyer (lower left block of the first floor), then depending on your route, you would go through the rooms of Disneyland or Magic Kingdom.

For example, in either Mansion, you would go from the Foyer north into the portrait Gallery. Then, if you were following the Magic Kingdom version (that does not have the storm hallway and changing portraits), you would head east to the load hallway (where you’d get on the Doom Buggies), and then immediately be at some stairs.

For the Disneyland version, you’d start in the Foyer and go norther to the portrait Gallery, then continue north through the storm and changing portrait corridor, then past the “follow you” busts and then to where the stairs are (at the end of the loading area).

It may seem a bit confusing, but if you follow the route on the map correctly you will go through all the scenes in the proper order for each version of the ride. There were also some new rooms included, which were just part of the game. For example, a Magic Kingdom in the load hallway, there is a chicken exit door. I had a secret room behind that door in the game, and did that with some of the hallway of doors as well. I even allowed you to go down the “endless hallway” (where the candle is floating) and explore some of the doors there, AND get into the ballroom where the dining table, dancers and organ are. I even included a kitchen. I mean, there had to be one, right?

My game would also play sound loops for different sections of the games. Most folks were still using dial-up Internet back then, so sound files had to be small and short, but I had loops that would play in the storm hallway, the ballroom, load area, etc. that were taken from the actual ride.

It was a fun project. The full game was never completed, but I did have it so you could walk through all the rooms, see descriptions, pick up and drop various objects, etc. I was even working on a GUI for the game which would show a photo of the room, and let you click buttons on the screen to choose a direction (and maybe even simple commands like GET, DROP, etc.).

In the unlikely even that you have Java enabled in your web browser (which I don’t think anyone should, at this point, due to all the security issues over the year), an early prototype of this game is still on my DisneyFans.com website:

http://www.disneyfans.com/adventure/index.shtml

I suppose I should rewrite in in JavaScript sometime and finish it.

And then, there’s also the Disneyland Main Street adventure that I was working on with Refurb Mike…

Map for my Disneyland Main Street adventure game in 2002.

Until next time…

Space Mountain 1999 FastPass.

Previously, I shared a photo of the original FastPass tickets that were give out at Magic Kingdom‘s Space Mountain in 1999. I thought I’d share a few more photos from the ride that started it all…

…or did I?

My memory says Space Mountain was the first, and I had assumed it did so in “late 1999” because the Wikipedia also said that, but I have since been reminded (via a well-researched Yesterland.com article) that it was announced to be starting in July 1999.

Amazingly, the Wikipedia was wrong about something. Let’s digress for a quick moment.

Doing some poking around the ancient archives of the rec.arts.disney.parks newsgroup, I found a post on February 18, 1999 by someone who got to try out a new “virtual queue system” on Countdown to Extinction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I then find a post from Al Lutz on May 31, 1999 referencing an Orange County Register newspaper article about the system being tested with plans for it to come to Disneyland. Then, on April 16, 1999, someone asked if the virtual queue was still being used and someone replied that it was not working on Space Mountain or CTX “this past Friday.”

Based on what I can find so far, the original testing seems to have been done on one (or both) of those two attractions sometime before February 18 and had ended by mid-April. But which was was first, and when? I shall continue to dig…

UPDATE: I found a reference from January 19, 1999 talking about the system being used on Space Mountain “last Christmas.” It seems December 1998 and Space Mountain?

But I digressed. Let’s get back to my November 1999 visit to Walt Disney World.

At that time, Space Mountain was sponsored by Federal Express:

TMK’s Space Mountain on November 11, 1999.

I grew up with the ride being sponsored by RCA, so this was quite different than the old entrance sign I was used to with the “rocket” with astronauts in it. Inside was also different… The RCA dog listening to the record player had been replaced with a galactic mural.

TMK’s Space Mountain entranceway on November 6, 1999.

When I visited next in 2006 and 2007, FedEx was no longer the sponsor. The signage and theming was still the same, but direct references to FedEx had been removed. I thought it was interesting they didn’t change this mural since “FX-1” in white and red colors was a referenced to FedEx.

Here’s a better look from 2007:

TMK’s Space Mountain “FX-1 Intergalactic Tracking Network” referencing former sponsor FedEx. October 4, 2007.

When I visited next in 2018, I saw that the FedEx references had been removed and the mural had been updated to be Starport Seven-Five… Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain opened in 1975. A similar update had been done at Disneyland with Starport ’77 (I bet you can guess which year their’s opened).

TMK’s Space Mountain entranceway on April 10, 2019.

But I digress. Let’s get back to 1999.

This was the year FastPass went into public testing and was installed on Space Moutain. This meant new entrance markers for FastPass and for the normal line, which would be called Stand-By.

TMK’s Space Mountain entrance got complicated with FastPass and Standby entrances, and FastPass machines. November 6, 1999.

You now had the Stand-By line if you wanted to line up for the ride the way you always did, and a “Disney’s FASTPASS Return” line if you had the magic FastPass ticket…

TMK’s Space Mountain Standby and FastPass entrances on November 6, 1999.

Notice how the “Disney’s” looked like it was added to the sign after it was made. Maybe this was just in the era where “Disney’s” got added in front of anything the company made, yet somehow it wasn’t originally planned to be on this sign.

There was also a place to go to get those magic tickets. “Disney’s FASTPASS Distribution”:

TMK’s Space Mountain FastPass distribution area on November 6, 1999.

Although my camera could not capture the specific time, the return time was the one-hour window where the ticket you received would allow you to return and use the FastPass Return entrance. (I guess we all understand this today, but back in 1999, it was a completely new concept.)

Let’s take a look at the machines…

Folks line up to use the new FastPass machines at TMK’s Space Mountain on November 6, 1999.

Let’s take a closer look…

TMK’s Space Mountain FastPass machines on November 6, 1999.

Insert park ticket here, receive your FastPass there… Simple enough (assuming that’s what it actually says; my ancient digital camera only took 640×480 pictures).

The machines were new, and often had issues.

I wasn’t bold enough to get closer, and the digital camera I had did not have a zoom (or a screen, or removable memory, or anything but a button for that matter). You can really tell this was more of a prototype than production system. Just look at all the wires and pieces of equipment all mounted inside there!

The end result was a nice FastPass ticket that could save you an hour or more waiting in line…

TMK’s Space Mountain FastPass ticket on November 6, 1999.

Humble beginnings!

I’ll leave you with one more view, taken at night…

TMK’s Space Mountain FastPass entrance at night, on November 6, 1999.

There is so much more to be said on the topic of FastPass, especially during the early years, so I look forward to writing more articles like this one, covering the other “first” attractions to have FastPass. (Or, FASTPASS as it was known at the time.)

Until next time…

Disney and other Theme Parks galleries updated.

My Walt Disney World gallery (over 40,000 photos) has been updated to included photos taken a few weeks ago. I have also done some resorting of the early years of my Epcot World Showcase photos, correcting a number of mistakes I found.

http://wdw.disneyfans.com

I have also added the latest batch of Universal Orlando Resort photos from a few weeks ago. These are on my non-Disney Theme Parks gallery (over 33,000 photos):

http://themeparks.disneyfans.com

Lastly, the Disneyland Resort gallery (over 56,000 photos) has been redone as well:

http://dl.disneyfans.com

All three galleries were restarted from scratch, using new settings. Please let me know if you encounter any issues. Thanks!

Up next: I still have to sort photos from Knott’s Berry Farm (2017 and 2018), Universal Studios Hollywood (2018), and Iowa’s Adventureland Halloween (2018). I also found I have photos form Worlds of Fun (Halloween 2014) I never got around to posting.

Never a dull moment here!

Until next time…

Kudos: Casey at Universal Orlando Resort Twitter

As you read this, please keep in mind the following statement:

BRANDS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS!

Internet

But if they were, Universal Orlando Resort would at least be a cool acquaintance.

I had noticed on my Twitter account that Universal Orlando Resort was actually responding to Tweets from other users. Their responses would range from helpful (“send us a direct message and we will try to help.”), to silly (responding with an animated GIF of some meme), to proactive (seeing someone complain about something and stepping in to assist).

On February 26, I decided to tweet them a question…

I was surprised to receive a human response so quickly. I contacted them via direct message. It went something like this…

Thanks for responding, human. . . .

(…Then a lengthy paragraph about past visits, allergies, and a goal to avoid boring burgers…)

ME

To which I got back…

Hello, other human! My name is Casey, and I’d be super happy to make some recommendations for you! I’m glad you’ve loved your past visits and are excited to come back! Couple more questions, just so I can make sure I don’t recommend anything you can’t experience . . .

(…Then some questions for me to answer…)

Casey @UniversalORL

Thus began an enjoyable exchange between myself and a “brand” which would continue, off and on, for the next month leading up to my visit.

The first thing Casey assisted with was to give me an e-mail address to contact about food allergies. I sent an e-mail and quickly received a response from Tyler B., a nutritionist with Universal Orlando Resort. Now that’s service!

Next, Casey followed up with a detailed response with various suggestions on food items:

Now let’s get down to the fun recommendations. For Universal Studios Florida: I would personally recommend dinning at The Leaky Cauldron and Finnegan’s Bar & Grill, as well as Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck! My personal favorite menu items at each are Cottage Pie with a Pear Cider (Leaky Cauldron), Beef Tenderloin Medallions and Irish Fish & Chips, as well as a Finnegan’s Potato & Onion Webb as a starter or a snack if you aren’t super hungry (Finnegan’s Bar & Grill), and Korean Beef Taco (Bumbleebee Man’s Taco Truck)! . . .

(…Then a similar list about Universal’s Islands of Adventure…).

Casey @UniversalORL

I was impressed that I was getting personal recommendations — much like speaking with the concierge at a fancy hotel when asking “what’s a good restaurant around here?”

Casey was able to provide me with a list of unique beers made just for Universal Orlando Resort, including one available only at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. She even suggested taking the water taxi from the parks to the resorts, and also mentioned a resort restaurant with a patio that had a good view of one of the parks.

When I needed clarification on something (I am fairly unfamiliar with the Universal parks), she’d send me direct links to the place in question, such as San Francisco’s Chez Alcatraz or Jurassic Park’s Watering Hole.

Perhaps this was more like clubhouse level service than hotel concierge.

During my actual visit, as I worked through much of my Casey-provide list, I’d occasionally write in with other questions. Casey was always quick to make some phone calls to see what she could find (sadly, no spiked coffee drinks at Universal Studios parks, but she did suggest Universal’s Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at CityWalk). And if Casey wasn’t available, someone else stepped in to assist.

It was truly guest service above and beyond anything I was expecting. The Universal Orlando Resort Twitter team does great work.

They also do funny work, like responding with animated GIF memes of, not surprisingly, Universal Studios related properties such as Jimmy Fallon:

And a Minion dropping the mic:

I just wonder how many lawyers and managers were there monitoring everything these folks sent. I mean, they used emojis, too!

Thank you Casey and your coworkers for being excellent human representatives for a large corporation. You made my visit more enjoyable (and, uh, more expensive) than it otherwise would have been.

I’m glad to have @UniversalORL as a brand acquaintance. If you are ever in Des Moines, Iowa, tweet me and I’ll return the favors.

Until next time…

Hard-core Mickey Mouse fan at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened on April 22, 1998 (Earth Day). I had considered being out there for the grand opening, but thought it would be a better trip if I let the crowds die down first. I made my first trip six months later in October that year.

The main attractions were the Kilimanjaro Safaris (still there, but changed), It’s Tough to Be a Bug (still there), and Countdown to Extinction (no longer there by that name, but still there and known as Dinosaur today). I’ll be writing about that first visit later, but I wanted to pass along this photo:

Super fan with a Sorcerer Mickey tattoo at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on October 17, 1998.

If I recall, I noticed her tattoo after my first ride on Dinosaur and I asked her if I could get a photo of it. Twenty years ago, tattoos still weren’t very common, and I’d never seen one in that position on the lower arm.

Today, such a simple arm tattoo wouldn’t get a second glance, and I’ve since seen folks with entire “sleeve tattoos” of copyrighted Disney characters walking around Disneyland. (When did the tough image of biker/military/pirate/prisoner tattoos become something you could mix with Disney?)

But back then, it was something surprising, and worth using one of my limited amount of digital photos on.

Does anyone know her? If so, tell her the guy with the computer camera she met at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998 says hi.

Until next time…

The original FASTPASS in 1999

UPDATES:

  • 2019-04-13: In a comment on Facebook, Werner from Yestlerland. com pointed me to his detailed article on the history of Paper FASTPASS tickets. He references an Orlando Sentinel newspaper article from July 9, 1999 stating FASTPASS (all uppercase back then) would go into effect “within the next week” on three attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Kilimanjaro Safaris, Countdown to Extinction and Kali River Rapids). I did not recall this, but I have photos of FASTPASS (all uppercase at that time) at those three attractions taken two days before I took the Space Mountain one. While it’s nothing unusual for the Wikipedia to be incorrect (it just says “late 1999” for when FASTPASS started), I now want to find a source to why I believed Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom was the first attraction to test it. The article mentions Splash Mountain would be coming, but I took no photos of that this trip, so I can’t confirm it happened by then. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was also mentioned, and I have photos of FASTPASS there as well. With that in mind, I am revising some of my writings below until I can figure out why I think Space Mountain was the first.

Here’s a quick bonus article…

According to our beloved Wikipedia, FastPass was first introduced in late 1999. Indeed, the very first time I used it was November that year.

I seem to recall that the first attraction to test FASTPASS was Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. However, in an article over at Yesterland about Paper FASTPASS, the Orlando Sentinel newspaper announced on July 9, 1999 that FASTPASS would be launching “within he next week” at three Disney’s Animal Kingdom attractions — Kilimanjaro Safaris, Countdown to Extinction and Kali River Rapids — with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Splash Mountain to follow. Since I have photos of all but Splash Mountain having FASTPASS by my visit in November, my photos agree with history. It appears in this case, my memory and Wikipedia are incorrect. I’ll have a few follow-up articles about FASTPASS shortly and try to figure out why my memory and Wikipedia are incorrect.

But I digress.

Here is what the original FASTPASS looked like:

Disney’s original FastPass on Space Mountain on November 6, 1999.

It was a very humble beginning to something that has evolved into a system that can be scheduled months in advance.

I suspect Space Mountain was chosen because their queue already had two sides. Originally, the wider side was where guest went, and the other side was … well, I’m not sure. I would see cast members using it, so perhaps it was just their way to walk the queue and get to the entrance when needed. It was probably just an obvious choice to use that other side for FASTPASS.

Side Note: I accidentally used that right side with a wheelchair guest and found it was a very tight fit. I was informed at the top that wheelchairs were supposed to use the normal queue (which is really how it should be – equal access – and allow those guests to also experience the same queue and preshows and such). But I digress…

I thought thought I’d take a moment to share this FASTPASS origin tidbit. If you want to know more, I have a few more articles about FASTPASS on Space Mountain and several other attractions in 1999 coming up.

Until next time…

Kudos: Alfred at Epcot’s Norway

As previously mentioned, during my trips, I like to make a note of any cast members that go above and beyond what I expect for my money. I thought sharing these stories might be a fun article series, so let’s get started.

During a recent visit to Epcot, I was enjoying sampling drinks and treats from the various World Showcase pavilions. Mostly drinks. I came across this beer stand in front of Norway:

Beer cart at Epcot’s Norway on April 7, 2019.

They had a Scandinavian beer listed which had a pronunciation guide. This caught my attention. The beer was called Aass Pilsner, an apparently Disney preferred people saying “Ouse” instead of … something else.

Norway’s Aass Pilsner, which is not pronounced that way, on April 1, 2019.

I tried one, and enjoyed it, even if I promptly forgot how it was pronounced.

Later during my visit, I passed through Norway again and wanted to check out the Kringla bakery.

Kringla bakery at Epcot’s Norway on April 7, 2019.

This used to be one of my “must do” things at Epcot back in the 1990s. They had a popular apple pastry I would always get, though I later found very similar ones at local bakeries so perhaps it wasn’t particularly Norwegian.

Looking inside on this trip, I saw no such pastry — or even anything close. Instead, I saw many items I hadn’t had before. Plus lots of Frozen themed treats. Of course.

Food items at Kringla bakery at Epcot’s Norway on April 1, 2019.

I also noticed they had alcohol bottles on display, which was something I don’t remember from my earlier days at pretty much any Epcot food location. (I still recall my surprise at finding a cart in Germany selling shots for the first time!)

Liquor bottles on display at Kringla bakery at Epcot’s Norway. April 1, 2019.

I tried a Viking Coffee, which I am sure is a culturally accurate representation of Norwegian culture 😉 It was coffee with Baileys Irish Cream, which is quite common here, and Kamora Coffee Liquor, which I had never heard of.

Epcot Norway’s Kringla Bakery menu board on April 1, 2019.

It’s amazing how tiny of a cup you get for $11.25 at Disney.

Later that evening, while camped out to watch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, I went on a food run. After walking practically the entire length of Word Showcase, I ended up back at Kringla. They had a Norwegian Club sandwich which looked tasty, even though I assumed it was another Disney invention. Much to my surprise, the cast member there explained that it was actually as special sandwich they had at home. He also introduced me to Lefse, which was a “soft flatbread rolled with cinnamon, sugar and butter.” It resembled a rolled tortilla. I also found out that the Aass Pislner was special, in that it was only available back in Norway and at Epcot.

I was set for a dinner, dessert and … another drink. The Lefse and sandwich were both delicious. The second Aass, even more so.

A bit later, I passed through the bakery one more time, to ask some questions about pronunciation. (“Uh, what was the thing I just ate called again?”) I spoke with the same cast member who had assisted me earlier, Alfred.

The bakery was slow at the moment, and Alfred took time to educate me a bit on Norwegian spelling, including writing out some of the alphabet characters they use:

A spelling lesson, compliments of Epcot Norway’s Alfred, on April 1, 2019. I saved this as a souvenir of my trip!

We also discussed the School Bread item, and I got a bit of a background about its history and cultural significance. He said it was one of the most popular pastries there.

So I left with a School Bread.

School Bread at the Kringla bakery at Epcot’s Norway on April 1, 2019.

This type of interaction is what I remember from the EPCOT Center I visited as a teenager in 1983. That was the first time I’d ever had any interaction with people from other parts of the world (other than Mexico, of course; I lived in Houston at the time and that was right next door). I was so glad to see Epcot still had ambassadors like Alfred.

Kudos to you, my foreign friend. I thank you so much for your time and attention, and for making my visit extra special.

Until next time…

Disneyland VS Walt Disney World … in 1996

UPDATES:

  • 2019-04-10: A few more notes about the year, and some formatting updates.

In summer of 1995 I started a job that would have me traveling. I found myself in Irvine (just down the road from Anaheim), California several times a year, as well as in Orlando about as often. I ended up with annual passes to both parks for 5 years.

I recently came across a post I made in the rec.arts.disney.parks newsgroup back in 1996. I thought I’d share it here, as it was my opinions then on Disneyland versus Walt Disney World…

TIMELINE NOTE: In 1996, California only had one park — Disneyland. Their second park wouldn’t open until five years later (and I’m not even sure it had been announced yet in ’96). At Walt Disney World, there were only three parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney/MGM Studios. Animal Kingdom was still two years off.


Posted on 6/1/1996:

KShre wrote:
> I was just wondering what or if there is a difference between the rides

I mainly go to Florida’s version but have had the chance to visit Disneyland three times in the past six months.  There are _major_ differences in some, and in most cases Disneyland is better, honestly.

> that are at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, such as Pirates,
> Haunted Mansion, 20,000 Leagues, Star Tours. Also wondering the same about
> the shows such as the Country Bear or the Tiki Room?

Pirates is about twice as long at DL with many more scenes.  WDW has a better queue area, so it might be worth checking out.  Also, the ship battle scene has different cannon effects.  Some updates (such as the fighting pirate shadows) are not at WDW.  Also, WDW has been made politically correct in several spots.  The scene with the men chasing the women is all women chasing men in Florida, and the pirate in front of the barrel with the show (and the woman sticking her head out) is now holding a treasure map in Florida.  Ride to notice these details.  Also you don’t go “up” at the end, rather you exit somewhere else and ride up a ramp.

Haunted Mansion is _very_ similar but all the updates Disneyland got this  past year have not happened at WDW.  A few minor differences at WDW are  worth seeing, though.  Little Leota is in the ride rather than near the  exit ramp.  The queue area doesn’t go through a hallway with pics but the  waiting room (before the stretch room) has a fireplace and changing  picture.  The attic is the older (no “I Do!” heads or mystery piano) version.  DLs has more neat updates, but WDW is still worth seeing for the minor changes.

20,000 Leagues is closed.

Country Bear is showing the original Jamboree (and not the vacation
hoedown) plus it has a neater exit area in Florida.

Tiki Room I don’t know about.

Star Tours is almost 100% the same inside but has a much neater outside at MGM and more ride vehicles (most rides are similar but hold more).

Space Mountain at WDW doesn’t have the digital sound system but does have two tracks and the seats are front to front, rather than side to side.

Splash Mountain is much much nicer and larger (original animatronics and  not ones from an old AA show 🙂 with different logs as well.

(hopefully you can tell I’ve been researching the same thing – my trips  to DL have been in the evenings so I spent most of the time just riding  things that they don’t have at WDW then riding things they do have to  compare)

The castle at WDW doesn’t have the walk-thru but does have a restaurant.

Tomorrowland is completely revamped (well, almost) at WDW and worth  experiencing everything there.

The Jungle Cruise has a “cave” it goes through at the end but otherwise is similar to DLs.

Big Thunder is larger and has a city scene not present at DL.

The train doesn’t go through any grand canyon or dinosaur land at WDW,  but does have some scenes to see that are different.

Tom Sawyer island has a neater and larger fort, but not as many caves.

Hall of the Presidents is worth seeing – not just one president like Mr.  Lincoln.

Overall more updates have been done to minor things at Disneyland than  WDW, and also maintenance (chipped paint, scratches, burnt out lights) is  poorer in Florida than DL.

So, my thoughts.  E-mail me if you want further tips.


Looking at this now, I can see many things that have changed. Disneyland got the P.C. changes, and WDW eventually got some of the updates. But overall, it seems most of it still rings true today, 23 years later.

I’ll also add that Disneyland was in the process of a decline where it, too, would have burnt out bulbs and chipping paint all over the park. I don’t really think it recovered until it was preparing for the 50th anniversary in 2005. From what I’ve been reading on Twitter, it seems like Walt Disney World is in a similar place right now, also gearing up for it’s 50th anniversary. But, the additions and updates made at Walt Disney World in the past ten years sure give it a great boost over the version I was speaking about in 1996 (which seemed like it was only minority updated since the ’70s).

Thoughts?

Until next time…