Talking water fountains of Epcot in 1996

Goofy Water at Disneyland’s Toontown in 1996.

There is a water fountain at Disneyland’s Toon Town that talks when you drink from it. It was there in 1996, and was still there in early 2018. But did you know Epcot also had its own talking water fountains in Future World?

Scattered around Future World were several normal looking water fountains that made noises when you drank from them. It’s been too long and I no longer remember what they sounded like, but once I stumbled on them, I tried to find all the others. I have pictures of three of them, showing where they were located. I believe they are long gone, and I don’t know when they were installed and removed.

But, here are some photos from 1996.

Epcot talking water fountain on August 29, 1996.
Epcot talking water fountain on August 29, 1996.
Epcot talking water fountain on August 29, 1996.

Ghads. Is that water play area still there? There was a moment in time where Disney World started adding water everywhere. They added misters to queues, water play areas, and converted some original Magic Kingdom drumming totems to be water sprayers. I guess they really didn’t want to have “dry parks” and adding alcohol wasn’t enough 😉

Until next time…

Kudos: Sam, Haley and Kayla at Islands of Adventure

Previously, I mentioned tracking down my 2007 bartender from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This led me to write some “kudos” articles about other cool workers I’d encountered at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort. Today I will continue, this time focusing on providers of tasty adult beverages at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

It was a cold and rainy day. By 10 o’clock, we’d already made the loop around the park and seen much of what we wanted to see, thanks to the lines being non-existent. We found ourselves back at Port of Entry near the park entrance just in time for the Backwater Bar to open for the day.

Backwater Bar at Islands of Adventure on a cold, rainy March 27, 2019.

Although I’d walked past it many times, this was my first time inside. It was small, cozy and, most importantly, dry and warm.

Unfortunately, no spiked hot drinks were to be found here. After checking with Universal’s Twitter folks, it seems spiked hot drinks were just not available inside the park (though they did suggest trying Toothsome in CityWalk). Instead, we decided on cold drinks at hot soup.

Hot soup and a cold drink at Backwater Bar at Islands of Adventure on March 23, 2019.

Since the bar was empty (maybe one other group the entire time we were there), we had a wonderful chat with our bartender, Sam. It was a pleasant and personable experience that let us warm up and pass some time while waiting for the rain to stop. (Yes, I know this is how a bartender should be, but it was definitely not the case at many “bars” I visited during my Orlando trips.)

Thanks, Sam!

A few hours later, I was working on checking off some more items on my Twitter “to do” list and I found The Watering Hole in Jurassic Park.

Watering Hole at Islands of Adventure on March 23, 2019.

This place was recommended due to having some specialty drinks, including some seasonal ones.

Twitter suggested that I try the Prehistoric Punch, so I did. My girlfriend tried a (I think) the Prehistoric Rocks. Both came in souvenir (plastic) cups.

Watering Hole specialty drinks in the souvenir cups on March 23, 2019.

This is were our bartender Haley comes in. She was letting us know about the various drinks and also that this refill cup would get a discount on them later in the day. It was also good for $1 off beer refills at certain places with draft beer. I appreciated the effort to let me know something that could help make my visit a bit more affordable.

Thanks, Haley!

And last on the list was a stop at Hog’s Head in the Hogsmead: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This popular place had a line going out the back door.

Hog’s Head at Islands of Adventure on March 27, 2019.

When I finally made my way to the counter, Kayla was nice enough to let me sample some of their custom beers before I committed to one. They don’t do that at Disney’s California Adventure, for sure. In the end, she convinced me to go with my Twitter suggestion of The Triple and try this interesting combination drink of beer, cider and beer.

The Triple at Islands of Adventure on March 23, 2019.

I’ve had a “black and tan” before, and it really wasn’t my thing, so I didn’t expect to like this any better. The Triple was just a variation of a common drink I can get locally, except being made using one of the “brewed just for Universal Studios” beers, which I can’t get locally. It was at least unique from that perspective. And, hey, though it didn’t qualify for a refill discount, I did get to use that souvenir cup at least once!

Thanks, Kayla!

Although these interactions were simple and minor, they were enough to stand out among hundreds of other interactions I had during this trip. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make the difference.

Until next time…

LIVE STREAM of Disney’s Hollywood Studios 30th anniversary

Disney will be live streaming the 30th anniversary celebration at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 1 at 9:55 (Florida time I assume). Set your alarm now to check this link.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/CmdF8ZjqGkM

Disney/MGM Studios in 1996

When the Disney/MGM Studios opened in 1989, it was a substantially different theme park than what you find today at the renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I missed seeing it the first several years it was opened — my first visit was probably 1994.

There are many things about the park that remain unchanged, but here are some that were still there in 1996 that are now long-gone.

Super Star Television on August 26, 1996.

I only saw Super Star Television a few times, but basically you’d see members of the audience up on stage in recreated sets from TV shows. They’d “perform” some lines and their footage would be intercut with footage from the actual show. I believe there was a Home Improvement segment, but none of this really stuck around in my memory. Perhaps that is why it was ultimately replaced, rather than just being updated with more current shows?

Disney article from 2014: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2014/04/a-hollywood-classic-superstar-television/

Monster Sound Show on August 26, 1996.

The Monster Sound Show was a look at how sound is added to movies. If I recall, this was the show that had Chevy Chase in it. It was later replaced with a Drew Cary show, Sounds Dangerous, which featured the audience in a dark room listening to binaural sound effects through headphones. (Disney got on a binaural sound kick for a bit. It was used in Alien Encounter at Magic Kingdom, and even a version of Great Moment’s With Mr. Lincoln at Disneyland. But I digress…)

Some may recall the news about the Alien Pizza Planet opening at Disneyland a few years ago. If I recall, they had to add “Alien” to the name because there was a real pizza business called Pizza Planet. (True? Internet “detective” rumor?) But, Pizza Planet was at the Studios park before then…

Toy Story Pizza Planet on August 26, 1996.

I don’t think I ever ate there. I did like seeing the Toyota Pickup truck outside, though:

Pizza Planet delivery truck at D/MGM on August 26, 1996.

There once were some “spitting” camels in a Disney parade… They ended up on display at the Studio park:

Decommissioned parade camels on August 26, 1996.

I believe those, or some others, were eventually inside the Animation Courtyard restaurant when it had an Aladdin overlay. Today, I think the same ones still live on at Magic Kingdom at their Aladdin flying carpet ride.

ABC’s hit show, Ellen, was causing an early IP overlay to happen…

Costume Shop on August 26, 1996.

Buy the Book was a location featured in the show. Today that building is home to the Baseline Tap House.

The Animation Courtyard included a tour where you could see Disney animators working on upcoming features. Thus, the entrance was far more … animated.

D/MGM Animation Courtyard on August 26, 1996.

There is much more to explore, but I’ll save that for future installments.

Until next time…

Kudos: Brandon at Epcot’s Festival Market

It’s time for another cast member kudos post, this time about an exceptionally helpful one I encountered during a visit during the Garden festival.

Scattered around Epcot’s World Showcase are various Festival Market booths like this one near the Outpost:

Epcot Festival Market booth on April 10, 2019.

I’d seen and taken pictures of these booths, but hadn’t felt the need to buy any festival souvenirs. When a display listing various tours caught my eye, I went over to take a closer look.

There, a cast member named Brandon described some of the various tours they had available. I knew there were Epcot tours (I’d taken Behind the Seeds in The Land a decade ago), but I was unaware that there were special festivals tours, including some that were free!

For instance, over in United Kingdom you could sign up for an English Tea Garden Tour, sponsored by Twinings Tea:

A FREE tour at Epcot?!? Well, the photo was taken on April 1, 2019…

Brandon letting me know about something free at Disney should be enough to get him on the kudos list, but he was also great at suggesting things folks shouldn’t miss during the event. He specifically suggested trying The Honey Bee-stro over in Showcase Plaza.

The Honey Bee-stro at Epcot on April 10, 2019.

He said the honey cheesecake was one of his favorite items.

The Honey Bee-stro menu at Epcot on April 10, 2019.

I guess I’m easily suggestible, since I did end up at the Bee-stro and did indeed try the cheesecake. Although the portion was small for $5 (like all items at these events), it was indeed delicious. I also tried the honey ale, but that one is on me.

Kudos to you, Brandon, for being outgoing, friendly, and helpful. Rather than just answer questions, you took a proactive approach with suggestions that really helped enhanced my visit.

Until next time…

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…