By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Category — w. Most Recent Stuff

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Expedition Everest

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

EXPEDITION EVEREST: LEGEND OF THE FORBIDDEN MOUNTAIN

By Jim Korkis

According to the Imagineering back story in the queue line of Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, two business men, Bob and Norbu, have rebuilt an existing railroad that once transported tea in order to take travelers to the base of Mount Everest for profit. The railroad journey goes through the Forbidden Mountain that is in the path to the final destination.

As travelers exit Bob and Norbu’s office, they begin to see shrines of the yeti in various sizes. The majority of these shrines are showered with jewels and food, symbolizing the tremendous respect the locals have for the yeti. Previously, guests saw shrines and prayers flags and red paint (to ward off evil spirits).

Next, travelers walk through Tashi’s Trek and Tongba Shop filled with hiking supplies and equipment. Once travelers have finished their shopping, they then enter into the Yeti Museum of Professor Perma Dorje, Ph.D. The museum, which was transformed from a tea warehouse, is dedicated to “the serious study of the scientific and cultural aspects of the mysterious creature known and revered throughout the Himalayas as the yeti.”

The first half of the museum focuses on the geographic region of Nepal, the people of Nepal, and their interpretations of what they believe the yeti to look like. This setting is meant to establish a sense of reality before venturing into the fantasy elements.

Next, the Lost Expedition of 1982 is displayed in the museum. Legend has it that in 1982, a group of trackers went in search of the yeti. When none returned after several weeks, a search group was sent to find these trackers only to discover they had not survived. The remains of their expedition, including their tent, hiking equipment and camera, are shown throughout the exhibit.

A little more than halfway through the museum, travelers notice pictures of lowland jungle animals, midland forest animals and mountain animals. The purpose of this display is to rationalize that if these animals can survive the different areas of the mountain, then why can’t a creature like the yeti also survive?

Towards the end of the Yeti Museum, travelers notice a brown display cabinet filled with actual different discoveries that Walt Disney Imagineers made during an expedition by Disney and Conservation International to the Himalayas, meant once again to establish a sense of reality.

Upon exiting the museum to board their train, travelers see one last warning sign posted by Professor Dorje: “Respect the Power of the Yeti. The weight of the evidence leads to the inescapable conclusion: The Yeti is Real. You are about to enter the scared domain of the Yeti, guardian and protector of The Forbidden Mountain. Those who proceed with respect and reverence for the sanctity of the natural environment and its creatures should have no fear. To all others, a warning you risk the wrath of the Yeti. Prof. Perma Dorje, Ph.D Curator The Yeti Museum.”

Of course, Bob and Norbu can not allow the good professor to scare off potential customers and so they also post a sign that reads: “The opinions expressed by the curator of the Yeti Museum in no way reflect the views of the owners and operators of Himalayan Escapes, Tours and Expeditions.”

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Disney Never Lands, and about planned but unbuilt concepts, and Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

 

 

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January 17, 2020   No Comments

Next Week (January 18 through January 26, 2020) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: JANUARY 18 TO JANUARY 26, 2020

The material below details next week’s Disney World operating hours, Extra Magic Hours, parades, and fireworks.

For more on January 2020 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/18-1/26/20

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 8a-11p 1/18, 9a-9p 1/19 through 1/21, 9a-8p 1/22 through 1/24, 9a-10p 1/15, and 9a-8p 1/26

Epcot will be open from 9a-9p every day

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open from 7a-8p every day

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open from 9a-9p 1/18, and 9a-8p 1/19 through 1/26

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/18-1/26/20

  • Saturday 1/18 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none
  • Sunday 1/19 Morning: none Evening: Hollywood Studios
  • Monday 1/20 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none
  • Tuesday 1/21 Morning: none Evening: Epcot
  • Wednesday 1/22 Morning: none Evening: Magic Kingdom
  • Thursday 1/23 Morning: Epcot Evening: none
  • Friday 1/24 Morning: Magic Kingdom Evening: none
  • Saturday 1/25 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none
  • Sunday 1/26 Morning: none Evening: Hollywood Studios

PARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/18-1/26/20

Magic Kingdom: Afternoon parade: 3p every day

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/18-1/26/20

Happily Ever After  at Magic Kingdom: 8p every day

Epcot Forever at Epcot: 9p every day

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8p 1/18 through 1/21 and 1/23 through 1/26

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8p every day

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 6.30 and 7.45p 1/18 through 1/25; 6.30 and 8p 1/26

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/18-1/26/20

See Steve Soares’ site here. Click the park names at its top for show schedules.

 

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January 16, 2020   No Comments

August 2020 at Walt Disney World

January   February   March    April   May   June   July   August

WHAT IS AUGUST LIKE AT DISNEY WORLD?

There are no great times for first-timers who may never return to visit in August. Kids start going back to school in August, so crowds (and most prices) go down later in the month–but that’s also when the peak of the hurricane season kicks off.

Hotel prices begin the month low at the deluxes and stay low all month long. Prices begin the month OK at the moderates, and high at the values. Values prices drop to lower levels 8/9 and on 8/23 prices drop to among the lowest of the year at the values. Moderate prices also change these dates, but stay within the general band of 10-25% higher than the lowest of the year.

Ticket prices are low in the second half of the month.

[Read more →]

January 13, 2020   No Comments

Possible August Dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

While as of this morning, Disney World’s official calendar only goes through July 20, August dates are beginning to leak.

One unofficial calendar that I have found to track quite well with actual operating hours shows the Magic Kingdom closing at 6p on the following August dates:

  • Thursday, August 13
  • Saturday, August 15
  • Tuesday, August 18
  • Friday, August 21
  • Tuesday, August 25
  • Friday, August 28

The odds are pretty high that the last four represent dates for the 2020 version of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (“MNSSHP”—for more on this party, see this), as they are fully consistent with the 2019 pattern, and largely consistent with the 2018 pattern.

The first two dates are off pattern—based on 2018 and 2019, one would have expected to see the first Party Friday the 14th, not Thursday the 13th, and Saturday parties are quite rare—I can recall seeing them only at the end of October.

Moreover, if both these are parties, there would be an unprecedented six parties in August—compared to five in 2019, and four in 2018. But I would not read too much into this, as a way for Disney to grow earnings year over year is to have more parties.

Magic Kingdom closes at 6p for reason other than parties—for cast member appreciation events, and, more rarely, if a big-pocketed convention is in town and buys out the park for the evening.

Based on all this, I’d put the odds at greater than 90% that the last four dates will be the 2020 version of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, about 80% that the first date will be, and about 50-50 that the Saturday date will be.

The party dates for 2019 were announced on Tuesday, January 15, 2019, so we may get the official answer to this quite soon.

 

 

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January 12, 2020   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

TWILIGHT ZONE TOWER OF TERROR

By Jim Korkis

While variations of the Tower of Terror attraction have been at four different Disney theme parks worldwide, one of the things that makes the Walt Disney World version unique among them is the inclusion of the horizontal journey through the Fifth Dimension experience.

Every week the Twilight Zone television show began with host Rod Serling telling viewers that, with the key of imagination, one unlocks the door to another dimension.

The idea of another dimension was shown in the Little Girl Lost episode (March 1962) where a little girl named Tina falls into another dimension through the wall behind her bed. The premise for the Tower of Terror attraction is that the ill-fated elevator passengers have fallen into a new dimension and have been trapped there never aging for decades. They are not ghosts.

In the WDW attraction guests’ elevator leave the lift shaft and pass through the Fifth Dimension where they get a glimpse of the 1939 passengers motioning them to go deeper and join them. The elevator then goes into another lift shaft.

The Tower of Terror actually employs more than one type of vehicle in order to enable riders to leave the elevator shaft and pass through the Fifth Dimension. Guests sit in Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs), which rise up to the corridor scene in a Vertical Vehicle Conveyance (VVC).

At the time work began on the attraction, United Technologies was the sponsor of the Living Seas pavilion at Epcot. UT owned a subsidiary, Otis Elevator that had pioneered the development of the safety elevator in 1852 that would lock it in place if the ropes failed. Originally, because of their reputation, they balked at the idea of being involved with an “unsafe” elevator but were persuaded it would be good publicity.

The self-guided vehicle was assigned to Eaton-Kenway, a manufacturer of computerized pallet drivers for automated warehouse inventory transport. There were challenges getting both systems to work in tandem.

When guests reach the Fifth Dimension corridor, the AGVs exit not on a track like a traditional dark ride vehicle but are guided by wires under the floor. This technology was originally developed for the vehicles in Epcot’s Universe of Energy attraction and The Great Movie Ride.

When they reach the far end of the corridor, they lock into another vertical motion cab, which handles the actual drop sequence.

The AGVs are powered by onboard batteries, which are charged while riders are unloading. At any one time, up to eight of these vehicles could be circulating around the Tower of Terror’s ride system. Ten were originally built.

While there really are two drop shafts on the Tower of Terror, there are actually four elevators that lift the AGVs from the boarding area up to the Fifth Dimension scene – two of these merge into a single corridor scene. This enables the ride to have an increased capacity.

Unlike other amusement park drop rides like Magic Mountain’s Freefall, guests are not in fact being pulled down by gravity. In fact, they are moving faster than the speed of gravity to a top speed of 39 miles per hour.

Once the AGV vehicles are locked into the Vertical Vehicle Conveyance (the elevator housing), they are pulled by cables connected to two enormous motors which are 12 feet tall, 35 feet long and weigh a massive 132,000 pounds. These pull the VVC up and down.

When the attraction was going through the test and adjust phase, it was found that the VVC was being pulled down so rapidly that it was compressing the air at the bottom of the shaft and blowing out the walls, so adjustments had to be made.

Besides the Fifth Dimension scene, other differences unique to the WDW version are some particular Twilight Zone artifacts and references, but that would need another column to cover!

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Disney Never Lands, and about planned but unbuilt concepts, and Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

 

 

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January 10, 2020   No Comments

Next Week (January 11 through January 19, 2020) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: JANUARY 11 TO JANUARY 19, 2020

The material below details next week’s Disney World operating hours, Extra Magic Hours, parades, and fireworks.

For more on January 2020 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/11-1/19/20

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 9a-10p 1/11, 9a-8p 1/12 through 1/16, 9a-9p 1/17, 8a-11p 1/18, and 9a-9p 1/19

Epcot will be open from 9a-9p every day

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open from 7a-8p every day

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open from 9a-8p 1/11 through 1/17, 9a-9p 1/18, and 9a-8p 1/19

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/11-1/19/20

  • Saturday 1/11 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none
  • Sunday 1/12 Morning: none Evening: Hollywood Studios
  • Monday 1/13 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none
  • Tuesday 1/14 Morning: none Evening: Epcot
  • Wednesday 1/15 Morning: none Evening: Magic Kingdom
  • Thursday 1/16 Morning: Epcot Evening: none
  • Friday 1/17 Morning: Magic Kingdom Evening: none
  • Saturday 1/18 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none
  • Sunday 1/19 Morning: none Evening: Hollywood Studios

PARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/11-1/19/20

Magic Kingdom: Afternoon parade: 3p every day

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/11-1/19/20

Happily Ever After  at Magic Kingdom: 8p every day

Epcot Forever at Epcot: 9p every day

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8p every day

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8p every day

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 6.30 and 7.45p 1/11 through 1/14; 6.30p 1/15; 6.30 and 7.45p 1/16 through 1/19

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/11-1/19/20

See Steve Soares’ site here. Click the park names at its top for show schedules.

 

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January 9, 2020   No Comments