Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MISSING: Classic Disney Characters

Who doesn't love to meet and greet Disney Characters???

While, these days, most character meetings take place at either a character meal or a formal meet and greet location, that wasn't always the case at Walt Disney World.

There was a time when you could bump into a character just about anywhere. Walking through Fantasyland you may come across any of the Seven Dwarfs...

or while passing through Cinderella's Castle you may stumble upon Robin Hood and his Merry Men...

how about walking past your resort pool and stopping by to have a chat was Pinocchio himself?

Those were the days!!! While I can, half-heartedly, force myself into understanding the fact that the parks and resorts are far busier than they were in those days, I do so miss the "spur of the moment" meet with the characters we all know and love.

One thing that I do miss, even more than where we met the characters, is just who we met. Most of today's character interactions are with the Fab Five, of course the princesses, and a few of the more popular, recently introduced characters.

Once again , I can most certainly understand the laws of supply and demand, but I will always miss the surprise of not knowing just who will be waiting for you outside the tunnel to Main Street USA...

or who could be wandering around Adventureland...

or perhaps, even a chance meeting down at The Lake Buena Vista Village (now I know, I am REALLY dating myself with this one!!!)
But I think you guys get my point!!!

With such a rich history of fantastical character creations...I would love to see a greater variety of walk around characters, I long for the days when you could meet just about any character from Disney's long list of Classic Films...just about anywhere!!!

Maybe even playing back up The BIG CHEESE himself...



I am always looking for New, OLD photo's of the "LOST" Characters of Walt Disney World.

If you are ever digging through your own secret stash of Vintage WDW photo's, and would not mind sharing, please shoot me an email...I am sure there are plenty of others here on The WED Page, who would love to see what kind of MAGIC you have to share!!!

Until next week....


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Frontierland:The Rulers of Days Gone By!!!

While "digging through the crates" last week, I stumbled across a little something that took me back...way back.

I was sending my buddy Ryan, Editor-in-Chief at The Main Street Gazette, a collection of Disney World songs, some rare and some out of date, that I had found online. As I was going through this collection, I came across one song in particular, that caused me to stop dead in my tracks. It was the Finale from The Country Bear Jamboree.

Back before the days of Splash Mountain and even Big Thunder Mountain for that matter, there was an attraction that absolutely captured the imagination of three little boys from the Bronx...THE "E-Ticket" attraction of Frontierland, back in the day, was without question The Country Bear Jamboree.This weeks article is less about the show, which we all know and love, and more about a little boy (or three) who were obsessed with it.

We had always loved the show while we were on our family vacations to Walt Disney World, but thanks to a very special gift from Santa Claus on Christmas morning 1976, our obsession was taken to a whole new level...

Many people credit albums from their childhood or teen years for having a profound impression on them, an album that changed their lives. For some it was The Beatles, other had Jimi Hendrix or The Doors.For was this album... (Please Note: LAUGHING WILL NOT BE TOLLERATED!!!)

Now, at the tender age 6, I had amassed quite a collection of vinyl. That Christmas morning I added this album to that collection. Sandwiched on a shelf between a Jackson Five album and something by the Carpenters, this was now my prized possession.

I can not say with accuracy, just how many times we played that was certainly enough to know every song, word of word...and also enough to bring a grown man to tears (not sure if Dad looks back on those day as fondly as I do) but what I do know with certainty, in our room, it was on maximum rotation!!!

To this day, I quietly sing every song, every word for that matter, right along with the Bears. If my brother Frankie is there with me...we just may sing it out loud!!!
Our love of the Bears didn't end there. Back in those days there was "Bear's Swag a Plenty" to be found in the Magic Kingdom.

We loved all of the critters in that show, but there was no one quite like Big Al...he was an absolute stud back in those days, a Magic Kingdom SUPERSTAR!

There were Big Al plushes, Big Al books, Big Al buttons...and we had them all. He was the undisputed King of Frontierland and he ruled with an iron, paw!

Sadly, those days are behind us now. While you may come across the odd collectible or two, the "hey-day" of The Country Bears has long gone by. Not to mention the fact that The Country Bears has since departed from Disneyland. I certainly hope that same fate does not await them at Walt Disney World.

One really neat little treasure that has been lost from WDW's Frontierland, used to be just next door in the Mile Long Bar. While I was thrilled with it's replacement (after all, who doesn't LOVE Pecos Bill's) I do miss seeing the boys, Melvin, Buff and Buck, singing their hearts out for the crowds as they exited the show.
There wasn't much to it really, but to see Audio-animatronics, outside of an attraction, was very cool to me. I can remember walking out the exit of Grizzly Hall, looking forward to seeing them "belting out a little ditty" for the crowd.

As I had mentioned, I know the album word for word, but of all the songs in the show, I still get the most excited for the Grand Finale. I assume that if you are reading this Blog, you are well aquainted with these songs. The first song in the Finale is The Ballad of Davy Crockett, a classic by anyone's standards. The second song from the finale, is certainly the lesser known of the two. As a kid we always called it Bear Tracks. I had always assumed that it was written just for the show.

Some of you may already know this, but during my research earlier this week, I discovered that, after almost 38 years of being The Country Bears biggest fan, that this song is actually titled Ole Slew Foot and is a Blue Grass Classic.

I think that I have gone on about The Bears enough for one week.

Whether you are a huge fan of The Bears, who checks out the show each and every trip or a rare patron of Grizzly Hall, I urge you to stop by and take in the show next time you find yourself in Frontierland.

I hope you can see the MAGIC that captured three little boys back in the early 70's and possesses them, now grown men with their own little ones, to this very day.

~ Tony

PS. Here is just a little something to enjoy before you head off...a few videos to send some pixie dust your way.

The first selection is The Country Bears Finale, taken for 1971 Demo Footage of the show.The second is a vintage video of a performance of Ole Slew Foot by Jim & Jesse, back in 1976.

'Til next week...Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An "Out of Disney" experience...

While The WED Page is offically dedicated to "The Walt Disney World of the Past, Present and Future"...not all Disney experiences happen at The World.

This past weekend I had one of my greatest Disney experiences of all time...and I was smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania.

Fred Block's MagicMeets was the absolute epitome of what the Disney experience should be...Good friends, great times and whole lotta magic!!!

We arrived early so that we could help out with The Dream Team Auction. For those of you who do not know what the Dream Team is, it is a group started by Lou Mongello. It is a fund raising effort which helps to send sick children to Walt Disney World through the Make A Wish Foundation.
This year marked the 4th Auction to benefit this effort, to be held at MagicMeets. The auction was actually the brain child of a great friend, Pat Whitson. Pat does all of the coordinating for the small task mind you, but she does it in a manner that all of those around her see nothing but a smooth well oiled machine when the auction takes place...and for this we are all TRULY thankful to her. In addition to Lou and Pat, there are a whole host of others who dedicated their time and efforts to making sure that this dream becomes a reality.

This years event raised $27,000 for The Dream Team absoulutely remarkable amount, which is a true testament to the generosity of the Disney Fan Community.

The Dream Team Auction is only part of this great event. There was also a fantastic key note speech by Disney's CMO (Chief Magic Officer) Justin Muchoney. This was an incredibly inspiring event, and I hope that you all get the opportunity to hear Justin speak is absolutely time well spent.

There were also fantastic "Break-out" sessions, with presentations by Lou Mongello, Matt Hochberg, Mike Scopa, Deb Wills, Beci Mahnken, John Rick and others. I was not able to attend all of these, but the ones I did manage to make it to were great fun and very informative.

I was also hoping to attend April and Janet Baker's Very Popular Scrapping Meet on Saturday evening, but two tired toddlers and standing room only right through Midnight, made it quite difficult...maybe next time!!!

I heartily urge you all to try and make it , at some point, to a MagicMeets Event.

Last week at this time, I already felt as though I was part of a special community. A wonderful group of people who, like me, had a special place in their hearts for everything Disney. This past weekend changed all of that!!!

More than just a "community", I now feel as though I am connected to an incredible group of friends who share the same love as I do. Some of these friends have become even more than that...they are an extension of my family and will be an integral part of my life and the lives of my wife and children for years to come...and for THAT, I am truly greatful and blessed!!!

Please take the time to learn more about the great things that are happening with The Dream Team Project. You can connect to us through this link:

You can also find out more about the great times ahead at future MagicMeets Events at:

I would like to take a second to thank everyone who I met this past was great fun to meet face to face with so many of you who have friended me on Facebook or have been following here on The WED Page...please stay in touch and I will certainly do the same.

To The Dream Team, Valerie, Lesa, Steve, Lori, Linda, Kathryn, Terry, Cassidy, Tracy, Lou, Pat, Janet, James, Kathleen, Kate, Erica, Tracy S., Amanda and Brian...I can't thank you guys enough for helping inspire Charlene and I to make a difference...we cannot wait to see you all again, real soon!!!!

And to everyone who donated, whether it was at the auction, online or elsewhere...thank you for helping us make a difference!!! I will be back next week with an all new trip back in time at Walt Disney World...see you then!!!


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Looking to share OUR Walt Disney World memories...

I just wanted to start off by thanking everyone who is taking or has taken the time to read my scribblings here for the past month.

In my first post, I gave a brief description of what I hoped to do with The WED Page and what I thought I would share with everyone. To start off, the everyone I thought I would be sharing with has already grown to be more than I expected...The WED Page's Facebook Fan Page is already pushing 400 members, a number I never could have expected, especially in just 4 short weeks.

In addition to the Facebook Membership, I have also received SO MANY great emails and messages from friends who have been touched in someway by the stories I have written and/or the personal memories they have brought to life. Some of those who have written, have also sent along incredible photo's of themselves from WDW vacations of long ago...and THAT is what has got me thinking!!!

What I would REALLY love to do here on The WED Page is to make this experience even more personal, more of a sharing experience between myself and all of the readers.

In a few weeks I will start posting photos from the readers (with their permission of course). These photos may coincied with an article you have read here, or may just be a great WDW photo that you would like to share.

For example, I am going to start off with this photo:

While I realize that it is fairly non-descript...this is, far and away, THE Walt Disney World vacation picture for me.

It is just a photo of my younger brother, Frankie, and I sitting with our Mom, waiting for the parade to start on Main Street USA back in 1974. We are just sitting in front of The Main Street Bakery eating our ice cream.

The funny thing about this photo is, if you ask Frankie to name any single picture, from any of the many vacations we have spent at WDW...THIS is the one he remembers the most as well!!!

Maybe this isn't the kind of photo that you would expect me to post and go on doesn't have any great extinct rides in it, nor does it have shows or characters of days gone by...although, I will admit, that I think it is a blast to check out the fashions of the day when you go through your "vintage" vacation collections (like that guy standing behind us in the very swanky plaid trousers and sportscoat in a pattern whose description eludes me at the moment OR those amazing pants that my little brother is wearing!!!!)

But in the end...this is what The WED Page means to me...going back in time and finding the memories that matter most. Someone recently said that the best Walt Disney World memories are not thinking back on the time you got on Splash Mountain 11 times in a row without ever getting out of the log (yes, I did that back in 1993)...they are the quiet times, times spent in a far off corner of the World, times that were shared between just you and someone special to you....

That being said, I certainly hope that more of you will take part in this little experiment, PLEASE feel free to email me stories and photos of your memories at Walt Disney World.

They DO NOT need to be from 1971, but reach back and find something from your earlier experiences, one of the memories that got you HOOKED on Walt Disney World...

Attach your name and a brief description and Email them to me, friend me on Facebook (if you haven't already) or join The WED Page Fan Page on matter how you choose to get them to me...JUST DO IT...join in the promises to be a good time!!!

See you next week...