Do you obsess about Orlando and Walt Disney World Resort? Do you act as a cheerleader for the House of Mouse, telling friends over and over why it’s special? And do you obsess about your next trip, planning it to the Nth degree?
If that is the case, this blog is for you! Read on, and we will provide an acid test of whether you are a true big-time fan who revels in the detail of what makes this the place that keeps you coming back over and over again.
It’s often the proof of any obsession or fixation – you know all the minutiae of a place or activity. It’s a common theme in holidays and is often the “secret sauce” of what makes a particular destination great. For example, if you know the anniversary dates of all four individual Walt Disney World parks*, you’re definitely a Disney nerd.
It is the kind of thing that just comes automatically, secure in your Disney fan-hood; an immediate response or thought. It immediately marks you out as a long-time follower or fanatic, and you love it.
Having written about Orlando and Walt Disney World for 30 years, we have plenty of ‘Disney Fan Moments,’ and we thought it was worth sharing them with you. How many do YOU already know by heart…?
10 – You still call it Disney MGM Studios, instead of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
When it opened in 1989, Walt Disney World’s third park was christened as part of a licensing deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), to give the company more movie representation in the park’s early years, like Wizard of Oz and Tarzan in The Great Movie Ride. That agreement ended in 2008, when its name changed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
9 – You know what it means when someone mentions ‘the Poly smell.’
No, it’s nothing gross, but for those who have stayed at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort opposite Magic Kingdom Park, there has always been that unique scent in the air in the main lobby area. It’s actually called Hibiscus Passion and was created especially for the resort by a company called Scent Air. There are also distinctive scents for Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Wilderness Lodge.
8 – If you refer to ‘The WEDway’ instead of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority
When the Tomorrowland area of the Magic Kingdom expanded in 1975, one of the new attractions was the WEDway PeopleMover, in a nod to founding father Walter Elias Disney (WED). It was changed to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority in 1995 when the land was refurbished and re-themed.
7 – When anyone says “…And these little beauties!” you know immediately which ride they mean
One of EPCOT’s most popular rides, Soarin’ opened in May 2005, and the iconic pre-show featured actor Patrick Warburton as “your chief flight attendant.” Patrick’s pre-ride spiel includes “some important safety information” and lists all the things you need to stow under your seat during the ride, It concludes by adding “…and these little beauties,” at which point the camera cuts to an embarrassed adult in the front row wearing Mickey ears!
6 – When you can point out all the Imagineer “secrets” in the queue for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Nearly all Disney rides feature elaborate queues that are packed with obscure references to characters, events and other Disney attractions. These are the Imagineer “secrets” put in place by the creative design team, and there is always a reason for them. The queue for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is positively packed with them, including a Jyn Erso blaster from the film Rogue One and a replica Sabacc game table from A New Hope. (PS: if you don’t know them all, Susan’s book, The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World, points them out, and more besides!).
5 – If you know which of the two queues in Pirates of the Caribbean passes the chess-playing skeletons
One of the great “secrets” on Pirates of the Caribbean is tied up in the chess-playing skeletons in the dungeon, which is seen when you take the right-hand queue (now the Lightning Lane line). This scene was created by Imagineer Marc Davis, who was an avid chess player, and the chess board in the dungeon is set up in a famous stale-mate (hence the skeletons!).
4 – If you know why Mr Toad is handing over a document to Owl in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Keep a sharp eye out as you’re riding with Pooh Bear in the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland and you’ll see a picture of Mr Toad, from Wind in the Willows, handing over a document to Owl, from Winnie The Pooh. This is, of course, a nod to the fact the Pooh ride replaced Mr Toad’s Wild Ride in 1999, and Toad is actually handing over the deed to the property.
3 – If you know why Space Mountain is sign-posted as Starport Seven-Five
Surprisingly for such a classic ride, Space Mountain didn’t open with the rest of the Magic Kingdom in 1971 but four years later, as part of a major expansion. The Starport Seven-Five moniker secretly celebrates its actual opening date – January 15, 1975.
2 – If you know the rides that preceded each of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Mission: SPACE and Test Track at EPCOT
All three rides in the World Discovery section of EPCOT (the former Future World) are actually replacements for the original attractions that opened in 1982 and ‘83. You can definitely claim to be a big-time Disney fanatic if you can tell friends that the original trio were Universe of Energy, Horizons (1983) and World of Motion.
1 – If you know what a Mickey Bar is!
All right, this is something that EVERY Disney fan will know, but it’s worth pointing out for newcomers that this Mickey-ear-shaped ice cream is THE must-try treat on any visit to a Disney park!
* The four Disney park anniversaries:
April 22 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
May 1 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
October 1 – Magic Kingdom Park
October 1 – EPCOT (or EPCOT Center, as it was)