Disney blog postings

Disney Postings

Earliest: May 30, 2003Latest: October 16, 2017Total: 108

October 31, 2016

Haunted Mansion really Haunted?

Is the Haunted Mansion in Disney World really Haunted. - Yes!

Known Oddities

Cast members will talk about how the Haunted Mansion ride will mysteriously shut down. Anytime the ride has a malfunction they are required to record the incident. That would be an interesting log to review to see if there are any particular patterns that have cause ride stoppage.

Personal Experience

I have been in the Haunted Mansion a couple of times where as something odd would happen. I have ridden on the ride many times to know the difference between a ride stoppage and when it feels that something doesn't seem right.

Broken Stretching Room

One time I was in the stretching room and all activity stopped after the lighting went off. It was completely dark and silent. About 15 seconds later the lights would go on, and then the main door open.

The cast member was quick to get everyone out of the room. I looked back and saw him talking on the radio. That particular stretching room wasn't used again for the remaining part of the day.

Doom Buggy

I have been in the Haunted Mansion enough times to experience a Doom Buggies stoppage. The stoppage is usually done to help a guest load or unload.

I actually look forward to the stoppage, as I'll try to get a good picture of the library or the graveyard. The ride moves too quickly to get the camera to take a nice night shot. However, I usually get stuck in a weird place - such as the area before the hallway or exiting the attic. I don't get an opportunity to take a cool Haunted Mansion ride photo.

Something different happened on the ride in November 2015. The ride came to a complete stop right before the Doom Buggy exits the graveyard. This was a longer stoppage than normal, as the cast member kept announcing over the speaker system that they were looking into the issue. I had plenty of time to get some pictures.

The total stoppage was roughly 2 minutes. While in the graveyard, I could see people taking flash pictures.

Taking Haunted Mansion Ride Photos

If you want to take decent ride photos you need the right opportunity and the right equipment. Using a cell phone camera is not your best option.

Good camera settings

If you have a DSLR or a Bridge, here are some suggested camera settings for various areas of the Haunted Mansion. This is based on successful pictures that other people have taken.

Place Aperture Exposure Time ISO Focal Length
Library f/2.8 1/25 12,800 24 mm
Hallway f/2.8 .3 12,800 14 mm
Dinning Room f/1.4 1/60 3200 30 mm
Graveyard f/1.8 1/40 12,800 50mm

The iPhone 7, the latest and greatest has these as max settings:

iPhone 7 f/2.2 Exposure Control 24mm

The Nixon D7100 seems to be the most popular camera that has captured the best photos

October 24, 2016

Memento Mori

Prior to October 1, 2014, if you wanted a Haunted Mansion souvenir in the Magic Kingdom you would have to look for the Mme Leota cart. Seems like a strange name for a cart, I wonder who came up with that?

Here's a couple of pictures of the cart taken in 2000 and 2005.

1999 Cart
Haunted Mansion Cart in 1999

Cart Closeup
The cart at night showing some of the merchandise in 2005.

The cart had very limited stock. There were a couple of shirt designs, some keychains, and pins. The variety on the Disney.com store was much better.

New Memento Mori Store

The Memento Mori store is a significant improvement from the cart store. The store replaced the old Yankee Store which was closed down for few months for a complete refurbishment.

You can see what the area looked like while they were transferring the building to be the new Haunted Mansion Store.

I remember being in the Yankee Store and was never impressed with the merchandise. They did have Colonial Memorabilia, which fit in the land that it was in. I thought the store would be better near the Hall of Presidents.

Special Haunted Mansion Merchandise

There's a lot of exclusive merchandise that Disney added to the store. Merchandise rotate all the time, so it's never the same place. When you go in, simply ask a cast member of any new inventory or popular things.

Exclusive to the Haunted Mansion store is the spirit souvenir photo. This is your chance to transform your face to a skull. Much like the portrait gallery inside the Haunted Mansion. Currently cost $20, for the photo and basic frame. I haven't done this as I don't know where I would hang the picture.

There are a few premium merchandise - desktop and wall accessories which are very cool. You can always have these shipped to your house - that way you don't have to worry about bringing it home. It's worth the extra shipping fee.

I like the coffee mug collection that they have. I am always on the lookout for some updated Haunted Mansion mug design. This is the place to get a Haunted Mansion shirt for the little Haunted Mansion fans too!

Shopping Tip: If you see something interesting, get it. I saw some cool mugs, and I waited until the end of the day to get them - only to find out they sold them all out! I went back to the store a couple of days later and they still didn't have the mugs.

Disney Special Effects

While walking around the store, pay attention to your surroundings. There're all sorts of special effects such as object in mirrors, or special lighting that Disney Imagineers added to make the store special.

It's a fun store to visit before or after going on the Haunted Mansion ride.

Momento Mori Construction
Construction of the Memento Mori in early 2014

Merchandise at Other Attractions

The Haunted Mansion is one of the few original attractions that doesn't make you walk through the store at the end of the ride. A great example is the Pirates of the Caribbean or the Pooh Ride.

While the Haunted Mansion store is long overdue, there are many other original 1970 Disney attractions that do not have any stores related to the attraction:

  • Small World
  • Peter Pan
  • Hall of Presidents
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Tiki Room
  • Carousel of Progress

Many of the Fantasyland attractions have merchandise in the "big top." If you're looking for merchandise related to your favorite ride ask a cast member for the ride.

October 17, 2016

Extinct Attractions Haunted Mansion

Theme Park Music

As an avid Haunted Mansion fan, I get excited going to Disney and riding the Haunted Mansion. In the early 1990s, I would bring a cassette recorder with me to record some of the sounds in the Haunted Mansion. The purpose of capturing the sounds was a way to remember the trip.

Favorite Clip Challenges

A couple my favorite sounds:
"Welcome Foolish Mortals to the Haunted Mansion"

This is very hard to capture because you have to be in the stretching room as soon as the doors open. In addition, to get the best quality of sound you need to know which speaker the audio is coming from and most importantly have a quiet room.

"Our library is well-stocked with priceless first editions. Only ghost stories, of course. And marble busts of the greatest ghost writers the literary world has ever known. They have all retired here, to the Haunted Mansion."

"Actually, we have 999 happy haunts here, but there's room for 1000. Any volunteers, hmmm? If you should decide to join us, final arrangements may be made at the end of the tour...."

This can be tricky to capture because the sound quality isn't the same in all the doom buggies. For some reason, some of the doom buggies speakers would fail just before you get to the library. You end up hearing the ghost host from nearby doom buggies.

I like this clip because this track is only played in Disney World as the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland doesn't have a library.

Extinct Attraction Club to the Rescue

Around the turn of the century, Haunted Mansion fans could have gotten a CD copy of individual sounds from Extinct Attractions. According to the sales pitch, the audio clips were pulled from the same audio used in the Haunted Mansion. The quality of sound was worth the price.

Extinct Attractions was created as a resource for people to share old home movies of attractions that are no longer at Disney. Guest could purchase DVDs and relive such rides as Tiki Room and Carousel of Progress.

I purchased my audio collection in 2006. Today I still listen to the audio around Halloween or just before heading on my next Disney vacation.

The 3 CD collection has 71 tracks including: HM Virtual Audio Tour, Foyer Music (Stereo), Four 1969 Radio Spots, Stretch & Portrait Hall (Ghost Host), Load Area Wolf Howl, Bells, DoomBuggy Load (Ghost Host), Hall Clock Loop, Madame Leota (Final), Ghost Host With Organ, Pistols, Ballroom (Stereo), Attic Heart Beat & Screams, Attic Scream 1, Heartbeat (Isolated), Caretaker's Dog, Cats, Chanting Ghosts, Bones & Flute (Isolated, Stereo), Deaf Guy, Singing Busts Tracks, Ghost Host Goodbye (Stereo), Exit Crypt Music, Little Leota_ Hurry Back, Come Back, Grim Grinning Ghosts, Otherworldly Music.

The Foyer and Ballroom music tracks are great as background music when you need to drown out the background of an open office.

Extinct Attractions Club Takedown

When it seems too good to be true...

Disney sued the Extinct Attractions Club in 2010 and as a result completely shut down their sales pipeline. This could explain why I haven't gotten any emails since May 25, 2010. In the prior email the subject was "Extinct Attraction Extinct?" There were a couple of issues not related to the take-down by Disney.

Disney Lawyers has imposed the owner, David O?Neal, a Million dollar fine if he used any Disney materials for future sales. According to various internet sites, prior to the shutdown, he was shipping nearly 1,800 DVDs a week.

Initially David justified his sales as portions of the sales went to help the homeless around Anaheim. Evidently, he got greedy and Disney caught on and shut down the mail order business.

Today, the Extinct Attractions Club is still operating, but they no longer selling any merchandise. They appear to still comply with Disney lawyers.

Occasionally you?ll find some CDs or DVDs on eBay from Disney fans selling their personal collection. If you do see the Haunted Mansion CD/DVD collection, I would highly recommend getting it.

Alternative Solution

If you're looking for a legal version of the Haunted Mansion Soundtrack, check out the "Haunted Mansion souvenir soundtracks" Soundtrack. You?ll find some ride audio walkthrough.

The Disney CDs doesn't include the individual clips that were in the Extinct Attractions Club. Maybe some day they will offer it? Perhaps on the 50th-anniversary audio collection.

The walk through audio quality is still better than if you were to personally record the media for yourself. Certainly can't go wrong.

You can pick up the CD at Memento Mori (Haunted Mansion store in the Magic Kingdom).

Extinct Attraction Media

Warning to anyone that purchased any media from Extinct Attractions.

None of the extinct attractions videos were ever manufactured on pressed DVDs as they were always done on regular DVD media. This is true for the CD collection too. This means that they may lose quality over time, much faster than pressed media would.

Since you can?t get a replacement for your media should anything happen to it. You should back up your CD or DVD collection. The easiest way to do backup the CD collection is to ?Mix-Rip-Burn? the CD via iTunes.

October 10, 2016

Disney Park Full Day Closures

Since opening in 1971, Walt Disney World has only been closed three times, all in anticipation of hurricanes. It was also evacuated in a brisk 30 minutes on 9/11, but the parks were not closed beforehand.

Disney was opening every day for 10,211 days. At this rate it won't be until September 22, 2044, when Disney will beat their consecutive day record.

The following is the list of hurricane's that closed Walt Disney World:

  • Hurricane Floyd September 15, 1999
  • Hurricane Frances September 4, 2004 and September 5, 2004
  • Hurricane Jeanne September 26, 2004
  • Hurricane Matthew October 7, 2016

Disney Close Dates

October 3, 2016

Disney Caribbean Beach Resort

On our next trip to Walt Disney World we have the opportunity to stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Since we have never stayed at the resort before I decided to do some investigation.

We have been told that the main pool, Old Port Royale, will be closed during our stay. This is an important factor to consider since we have scheduled a down day during our Disney vacation.

Here's a quick summary of the resort:

About the Caribbean Beach Resort

  • The resort first opened on October 1, 1988, and has gone under many refurbish stages over the years.
  • This is the second largest resort, in terms of property size, on Disney Property.
  • This is the only resort that has a resort shuttle buses to get around.
  • The resort is 4.1 miles from Epcot and 2 miles from Disney's Hollywood Studios. It's considered to be one of the Epcot properties.
  • There is a 1.5-mile running trail around the park. (Run around twice to practice the 5K!)
  • Preferred Rooms put you close to food court and main pool, but not next to building with the lobby and Magical Express pickup

The Rooms

  • The 300 Sq Ft. rooms at the resort are smaller than Port Orleans.
  • National Average Hotel room size is about 325 square feet.
  • Most of the rooms are theme after Finding Nemo.
  • There are limited number of Pirates theme rooms in the Trinidad South Village and these are a premium.
  • Most rooms beds are Queen beds, whereas at Port Orleans most of the beds are Kings.
  • The further you are away from the Custom House the cheaper the room rate, and the longer the walk to your room after a long day at the park.

Pools and Amenities

  • There are six heated pools located throughout the village.
  • The biggest pool, Old Port Royale, features waterfalls, slides and canons.
  • There are beaches around the resort, just stay away from the water.
  • The Goombay Games Arcade has lots of high tech games.
  • There are various playgrounds within each of the seven villages.

Chart of Hotel Acres

I put together a chart of the five largest hotel properties in Disney World. This shows you which resorts are taking up the most property:

Disney Acres

Resort Map

Download the resort Map so that you know where things are on the property. This also comes in handy when you're planning your trip, past hotel experience taught us that you're better off being near the DisneyWord Bus stop.

After a long day, you don't want to be bouncing between buses or walking a long way to get to your room. This is especially noteworthy if you have young kids and a stroller.

CB Map Frontbr/>Download the Report Map

September 26, 2016

Disney Park Numbers

This week we will look at Disney park attendance numbers over the past three years. The need for this topic came up in a recent discussion about all the new things Disney is working on to get people to visit the other parks in Disney World.

Disney the World Wide Leader

Year after year, Disney is the leader in amusement park attendance numbers. The four parks in Florida are in the top ten worldwide, with the Magic Kingdom being the most popular theme park visited in the world:

2015 Disney Numbers

In 2015, the Magic Kingdom became the first amusement park to surpass the 20 million annual visitors mark. The above chart shows that most people visit the Magic Kingdom. Clearly, Disney is working on the attracting visitors to the other parks.

2015 2014 2013
MAGIC KINGDOM 20,492,000 19,332,000 18,588,000
EPCOT 11,798,000 11,454,000 11,229,000
DISNEY'S ANIMAL KINGDOM 10,922,000 10,402,000 10,198,000
DISNEY'S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS 10,828,000 10,312,000 10,110,000

People Don't Always visit Amusement Parks

Unfortunately Disney didn't make the top 5 most popular travel spot in the world (2013 data from lovehomeswap.com)

Las Vegas Strip 39,668,221
Times Square 39,200,000
Central Park, New York City 37,500,000
Union Station, Washington DC 32,850,000
Niagrara Falls 22,500,000
Grand Central Terminal, New York 21,600,000
Faneuil Hall, Marketplace, Boston 18,000,000
Magic Kingdom, Orlando 17,536,000
Disneyland, Anaheim 15,963,000
Forbidden City, Beijing 15,300,000

When Lovehomeswap.com came out with the infographic back in 2013, it became news because some people didn't realize that Boston's Faneuil Hall had more visitors than the Magic Kingdom.

According to Boston USA 2015 was a record year for tourists visiting Massachusetts. However, the statistics on the tourist visiting Faneuil Hall hasn't changed, as the faneuilhallmarketplace.com the website still promotes the 18 million visitors a year number.

Today if LoveHomeSwap.com was to update their statistics, I believe that the Magic Kingdom would be the 7th most popular tourist attraction in the world - easily overtaken Faneuil Hall spot. Everything else in the top 10 probably hasn't changed much in ranking.

September 19, 2016

Monster's Inc. laughing Floor.

Monster Laugh Floor

One of many attractions in Tomorrowland is the Monster's Inc. laughing Floor. This stage-like show goes all out to make everyone in the audience laugh. The reason the Monster's want you to laugh so that you'll generate electricity for Monstropolis - remember the ending of Monster's Inc?

The show is hosted in the Circle-Vision theater in Tomorrowland, right across from the Stitch Great Escape! You?ll see it on your right as you enter Tomorrowland from Main Street USA.

Guest interact with the Monster?s Inc. characters on the stage

Brief History of the Monster, Inc

  • Monster?s Inc. film debut was on October 28, 2001
  • Monster's Inc. laughing floor opened April 2, 2007
  • Monster University film debut was on June 21, 2013

Previous Rides at the Location in Disney World:

  • The TimeKeeper - November 21, 1994 - February 26, 2006
  • American Journeys Film - 1984 - 1994
  • America the Beautiful Film - November, 1971 (Circle-Vision Theater opened a month after Disney World opened)

Fun Facts about the Monster's Inc. laughing Floor.

  • The theater seats about 400 guests, there are special handicap seats at the back of the theater.
  • The show lasts about 10 minutes, depending on how well the jokes go.
  • If your first in line, ask the cast member on popular jokes to tell Mike Wazowski.
  • You can text in some jokes that might get used for the show, think of some local jokes before going!
  • Fastpass+ is accepted here, but probably not needed for most times since the wait times is very little.
  • As you enter the theater, look around for signs of the old "TimeKeeper" attraction.
  • If you have a Goofy hat, this is the place to wear it!
  • When the show is over, you exit near the Carousel of Progress.
  • Prep up your jokes before the trip, or while waiting in line at another ride.

Sample Jokes to think about:

Anything that would make a Middle Schooler laugh wins! Basically, if it's offensive then it wouldn't make the cut.

  • Q: What happened to the plant in math class? A: It grew square roots.
  • "I need to talk to you" - is the one sentence that has the power to make you remember every bad thing you've ever done in your life.
  • If at first you don't succeed then skydiving definitely isn't for you
  • A day without sunshine is like ... night.
  • As I said before, I never repeat myself.

September 12, 2016

Pleasure Island & Disney Springs

Pleasure Island Logo

Long before Disney Springs and Downtown Disney the area was known as Disney Marketplace and Pleasure Island.

Pleasure Island part of Downtown Disney opened on May 1, 1989 and officially renamed on November 18, 2010. Many of the nightclubs on the island were closed on September 27, 2008.

Pleasure Island

To get into any of the night clubs on the island you had to pay a single cover charge. This was something similar to how things were being done at Church Street Station in downtown Orlando.

Part of the attraction to Pleasure Island was that it was New Year's Eve every night. The lights would dim and the crowd would go crazy counting down to midnight.

This was to be a place for adults to have some fun after a long day at the park. All the night clubs were for 21+ and over.

Disney Executives decided to change the focus of Pleasure Island in response to guests who wanted more family-friendly attractions. The area of Pleasure Island is now called "The Landing."

PleasureIslandMap2.jpg
Click on the Map to download the larger version of the Map of the Pleasure Island and see how much it has changed since 1991.

Things we Do in Disney Springs

Here are some of the things/shops that we visit during our Disney Vacation.

  • Check out the Disney Pin Traders store for the latest pins. Ask a cast member for any new stock or your favorite ride.
  • Make your own Disney Treat at the Goofy's Candy Company
  • Shop at the largest Disney Store in the World - The World of Disney. Find some unique Disney things for the home. You can always have the items shipped home.
  • Face Painting - The kids will like this
  • Train Ride - Fiun thing to do for the kids but the rides in the parks are so much better. (Come on Disney, I know you can build a better train ride!)
  • Disney Design-A-Tee - Make your Own Shirt, add your name and message. A custom souvenir! Great place to get last minute team shirts that you see everyone wearing.
  • Gluten Free Bakery - Great Gluten Free baked goods at the Erin McKenna's Bakery.
  • Disney Days of Christmas - Start a new tradition and get a Christmas Ornament on your trip.
  • The Art of Disney - Find some unique collectible. Great collection of souvenirs that you'll want to put in the Living Room.

September 5, 2016

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant

Disney Sci Fi

If your looking for a unique dinning experience at the Disney Studios, check out the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant on Commissary Lane, near the Star Tours - The Adventure Continues.

This is Disney?s brief description of this establishment:

Diners sit in car-shaped booths while watching this eatery's retro flicks & eating American grub.

Reservations are highly recommended, as there is a long wait for this popular restaurant. Tables and booths will be assigned upon your arrival at the restaurant unless otherwise reserved. You may make reservations up to 180 days before your arrival.

Things that I have learned about this resturant

  • This restaurant is set up to look like a drive-in.
  • The ?movie theater? screen is on the opposite side of the wall when you walk in. Basically, the cars are all facing towards the waiting area.
  • There is a separate Allergy Friendly menu, simply asked for it when you arrive.
  • There is no ?best seat,? Sitting in the back gives you the chance to see people walk in and awe at the drive-in experience. If you can avoid the front cars as they are a bit close to the screen.
  • Each car can hold up to six people. There are a couple of ?cars? that are setup up as tables, so they are handicap accessible.
  • The movie experience repeats itself after about 45 minutes.
  • The car license plate numbers on the cars are Disney Imagineers that work putting together the restaurant and birth dates (Month Year)
  • Since the room is dark most of the time, it?s hard to take the perfect group picture. There is a car prop by the entrance where you can take all the group pictures that you want. Anyone know the license plate number on that car??
  • Walt Disney makes an appearance in several clips - these are from the Disneyland series where Walt talks about life on other planets. The robot that introduces Walt is Garco.

August 29, 2016

Disney Popcorn Carts

Popcorn Cart

As your walking down Main Street USA, you can smell Cotton Candy, Cookies and Popcorn. The absolute freshest popcorn isn?t in the stores on Main Street USA, it?s from the carts that are all around the Magic Kingdom. All day they are popping delicious popcorn.

You can find the Popcorn Carts in every land in the Magic Kingdom. Typically you find them by the smell of fresh popcorn.

  • Main Street USA: One by the exit and another by Adventureland.
  • Adventureland: Near the Magic Carpet Ride
  • Frontierland: Across from the Country Bear Jamboree
  • Liberty Square: Next to the Liberty Square Tavern
  • Fantasyland: Near the Gaston?s Tavern and Dumbo Ride
  • Tomorrowland: Near the Astro Orbiter and Tomorrowland Speedway

At each of the popcorn carts they usually have some type of speciality souvenir container. In November/December you?ll find Santa Mickey souvenir container, and in the Fall you?ll find some halloween container.

Some Facts/Tips on the Popcorn Carts

  • If your looking for popular seasonally containers, the best place to find them is at the popcorn stand in Fantasyland.
  • If your getting a souvenir container, you can ask for a separate container for the popcorn. This way you don?t have to worry about cleaning it.
  • If you don't see any specialty souvenir container, ask for it. They may not have time to display it.
  • Should you or your child drop a box of popcorn soon after you walk away from the cart, go back to the cart and more often than not they will refill the popcorn container.
  • My favorite popcorn is at the cart at the end of Main Street near the castle. They tend to have the most crispy popcorn, this could be because they are the busiest popcorn cart.
  • The popcorn cart on Main Street is popular around parade and fireworks time, visit the one in Liberty Square to avoid the lines.
  • Check out the detail at the Popcorn Cart, usually they apply some local feature in the machine.
  • Regular size Popcorn counts as a snack on the Meal Plan! There is no "upgrade" pricing for the larger size.
  • I have collected plenty of Souvenir Buckets over the years and haven't done anything with them. They do make good storage for pens and pencils.
  • Disney uses Orville Redenbacher popcorn kernels
  • If your looking to build your own popcorn cart, use the Gold Medal brand Popcorn Popper.