The Mouse Knows Best Podcast

Friday, September 29, 2017

Looking Back to Look Forward: The Living Seas

Heading left from The Land, we arrive at The Living Seas pavilion.  Welcome to Seabase Alpha.

Disney Avenue
The Living Seas

At 5,700,000 gallons, The Living Seas pavilion is home to the second largest saltwater tank in the world (behind only the Georgia Aquarium).

Laughing Place

Looking Back

The Living Seas pavilion opened in 1986, although it had been a planned pavilion since the beginning.  In the original pavilion, guests first saw a film - simply titled The Seas - which showed how the oceans were formed ("And they rained...and rained...and rained").  Guests would then board a Hydrolator, which would take them to Seabase Alpha and then ride omnimoving Seacabs through the coral reef.  Although the Hydrolators gave the impression that they were going down into the ocean, guests actually remained on the same level the entire time.  Once at Seabase Alpha, guests were able to explore exhibits with fish, dolphins, and manatees.

Disney Parks Blog
In 1998, the original sponsor of the pavilion, United Technologies, pulled it sponsorship.  Over the next six years, attendance began to decline.  The Seacabs were taken away in 2001, and guests were also given the option to skip the film.  It was during this time that The Living Seas received the nickname “The Dead Seas.”

Disney Parks Blog
Finally in December 2003, The Walt Disney Company began to re-theme the pavilion to be based off of the successful Pixar film Finding Nemo.  Over the new couple of years, Nemo and his gang made themselves at home in The Living Seas.  Turtle Talk with Crush was the first Nemo-themed attraction to open at the pavilion, and its surprise success made the pavilion a must-visit once again.

Walt Disney World
On August 21, 2005, the pavilion closed for a renovation when it transformed into The Seas with Nemo & Friends.  Parts of the pavilion reopened in November of the same year with noticeable changes to the facade of the building where depictions of Nemo and his friends could now be seen in the murals.  The exit Hydrolators had also been removed and Seabase Alpha was re-themed to Finding Nemo.

WDW Ride Guide
The Seas with Nemo & Friends was rededicated on January 24, 2007.  When the pavilion completely reopened, it featured a new Clamobile attraction that took guests on an omnimover style ride through the story of Finding Nemo.  Similar to its predecessor, the ride concluded inside the tank.  The different exhibits inside the pavilion were also re-themed to Nemo.  Outside the pavilion, three audio-animatronic seagulls were added, and the trio periodically flap their wings and say “Mine! Mine! Mine!” just like in the hit film.

WDW Info
The re-theming of The Living Seas pavilion to The Seas with Nemo & Friends marked the first time a Disney animated movie property had its own pavilion.  It was also only the second time an Epcot attraction featured characters from a movie, with Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable being the first.

Walt Disney World

Looking Forward

Like many of the opening day themes of the pavilions, The Living Seas entertained, informed, and inspiring as it taught guests about the ocean, the animals that live in them, and man's impact on them.  Now, I feel The Seas with Nemo & Friends is focused on only one thing: Nemo.  

Disney Parks Blog
I believe it’s time to get back to educating guests about the oceans and how we can help them.  In a world that is becoming increasingly smaller every day, we need to all know how to protect the natural world around us, and the oceans are no exception.  I would love to see a more dominate exhibit on recycling and how plastic and other items are detrimental to wildlife.  Disney already does such a great job with conservation that I think it’s time to bring that back to the pavilion.   

On a lighter note, I think it would be fun for them to re-theme the pavilion to be the Marine Life Institute.  It would not only incorporate the newest installment to the Nemo franchise with Finding Dory, but it would also give them a chance to bring more education into the pavilion. The dolphin research experience at the pavilion is so fun to watch for kids of all ages, and I believe more of that interaction will only increase guest attendance to the pavilion.

Raising Whasians
It’s a big blue world out there, and it’s time for us to learn all about it once again.

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Looking Back to Look Forward: The Land

Walking through CommuniCore West, we find ourselves standing in front of The Land pavilion.  

Build a Better Mouse Trip

The Land

It is here that millions of guests have learned about how humans interact with Mother Earth.  The pavilion was originally sponsored by Kraft Foods until 1992 when the sponsorship switched to Nestle.  At six acres in size, The Land pavilion is the largest pavilion at Epcot.


Looking Back

After Tony Baxter left The Land project to work on the Imagination pavilion, it was up to Imagineer Rolly Crump and his team to come up with the new plans for pavilion.  Crump and his team came up with the glass pyramid design that the pavilion has today.  The new plans also featured a mural that represents entering the earth’s core.  The Land featured three attractions when it first opened.  

Walt Dated World
One was a boat ride through the greenhouses called Listen to the Land.  In the beginning, the greenhouses were supposed to be a temporary feature.  However, it was later decided they would remain a permanent fixture at the pavilion.  Very little has changed to this attraction since opening day.  The opening scene was changed from a stylized look at the growth of plants to the storm scene, and the Biotechnology Lab was relocated to the Creative Greenhouse.  The ride’s live narration was also replaced with an automated guide and the theme song Listen to the Land was removed.  

Walt Disney World
Another attraction at The Land was the Harvest Theater, which was located on the first floor of the pavilion.  From opening to early 1995, the theater featured an 18-minute environmental film called Symbiosis.  The film showed positive and negative aspects of human interactions with the land.  Symbiosis was replaced with the Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable featuring characters from The Lion King.  

Fronterland Station
The final attraction at The Land was The Kitchen Kabaret Revue, an audio-animatronic musical revue and comedy show that focused on nutrition.  The 14-minute show was hosted by Bonnie Appetite who introduced the acts that focused on meat, dairy, grains, and fruits and vegetables.  Kitchen Kabaret featured acts from Stars of the Milky Way, the Cereal Sisters, Hamm & Eggz, and the Colander Combo with the Fiesta Fruit.  It was replaced in 1994 with Food Rocks, which was an updated version of the show meant to draw in younger crowds.

Stuff From the Park
The Land pavilion also featured a large food court on the first level called The Farmer's Market and a rotating restaurant on the second floor called The Good Turn Restaurant.  In the late 1980s, The Good Turn Restaurant was renamed The Land Grille Room, and it would later be renamed to Garden Grille.  In 1994, The Farmer’s Market was replaced with The Sunshine Season Food Fair.

Walt Disney World News
In the early 2000s, The Land underwent a major renovation, which included the addition of Soarin’ Over California as well as some cosmetic updates to the entire pavilion.  Soarin’ was an opening day attraction for Disney’s California Adventure and found it’s way to Epcot during the Year of a Million Dreams.  The attraction was an instant hit at Epcot, and it would (finally) receive a much needed update in 2016 when the attraction changed to Soarin’ Around the World.

WDW Info

Looking Forward

When the Imagineers were designing The Land, they did so with human interaction with the land as its core message.  The pavilion was designed to teach as well as entertain guests about their impact - both positive and negative - on the land.  However, much of that seems to have been forgotten over the years with the exception of Living with the Land, which still holds true to the original theme of the pavilion.

The Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable needs an update so badly it is almost begging for it.  So much has changed in the way of our impact on the land and how we can help the land that it needs to be told more effectively on the big screen.  Disney can use characters from recent movies (Moana talking about the ocean, maybe?) to update the film and bring in new audiences to educate and entertain.

Soarin’ Around the World brings in so many guests a day just for that single attraction, and if there were more for them to do in The Land, they would stay longer.  Having a new film with new characters would be just what The Land needs.  That and a reboot of the Kitchen Kabaret so everyone can learn about veggie veggie fruit fruits.

Walt Disney World
It’s time to make believe we’re a tiny little seed and listen to The Land once again.

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Looking Back to Look Forward: CommuniCore

From Spaceship Earth, we move to the two semi-circular buildings directly behind the geosphere which was known as CommuniCore.

Disney Wiki


CommuniCore, short for Community Core, was an opening day pavilion at EPCOT Center that focused on the technological advances of the world.  The two buildings were known as CommuniCore East and West and featured rotating exhibits on technology.

Disney Parks Blog

Looking Back to the East

Since CommuniCore opened in the 1980s at the beginning of the computer boom, most of the rotating exhibits focused on educating visiting guests on computers.  The main exhibit of CommuniCore East was a tour through the computer hub of EPCOT Center called EPCOT Computer Central.  The tour was called the Astuter Computer Revue and featured a song called “The Computer Song,” which was penned by the Sherman Brothers.  In 1984, the show was replaced with Backstage Magic, which demonstrated how Audio-Animatronics worked.

Disney Parks Blog
CommuniCore also featured an interactive robot named SMRT-1 and several games that varied from putting together parts of a flag in Manufactory to Compute-a-Coaster that allowed guests to build their own roller coaster.  In the Travelport section of the CommuniCore East, guests could visit vacation stations and use touch screens to see slide shows of various destinations.  The Electronic Forum area of CommuniCore featured News Choice Theater where several televisions played various news from sports, business, and even the Disney Parks.  Near the Universe of Energy, there was Energy Exchange which educated guests on offshore drilling, coal, and oil shale.

The Kingdom Insider
In addition to the exhibits, CommuniCore East also housed two restaurants.  Stargate Restaurant served breakfast, lunch, and dinner while the Beverage Base served popcorn, fresh fruit, and beverages.

The Kingdom Insider
The largest gift shop at EPCOT Center was the Centorium and was also located in CommuniCore East.  The Centorium was a two level shop that included a large assortment of EPCOT Center and Disney themed merchandise.  Guests could take a glass elevator up to the second floor where everything from watches to Team Mickey sports clothes to Art of Disney merchandise were sold over the years.  In 1999, the Centorium was moved to Innoventions West while Mouse Gears was being built.

Disney Parks Blog

Looking Back to the West

CommuniCore West housed several exhibits that focused on the way people communicated.  FutureCom, which was sponsored by Bell System and then AT&T, included the Information Fountain which showed different ways of communication such as newspapers, radios, televisions, magazines, telephones, and more.  There was a hands-on computer game called Age of Information that allowed guests to follow the flow of a long distance call.

The Kingdom Insider
The featured show at CommuniCore West was Expo Robotics.  The show featured Pixel, a stunt performing robot.  There were also robots in CommuniCore West that would sketch portraits for guests and robots that would airbrush Disney characters onto t-shirts.

CommuniCore West was also a place where concept plans for future pavilions and exhibits were displayed for guests to see at EPCOT Outreach.  There was also a Teacher Center where education materials were sold.

Disney Detail
The main restaurant at CommuniCore West was the Sunrise Terrace Restaurant, which later became Pasta Pizza and Fountainview Espresso & Bakery.  Upon the closing of these two eateries, an ice cream shop would be put into the space.  Eventually, the Epcot Character Spot and Club Cool would fill in the rest of the space in CommuniCore West.

Walt Disney World

Looking Forward

In 1994, CommuniCore was closed and rebuilt into Innoventions East and Innoventions West.  Over the years, Innoventions has hosted a variety of exhibits from Lego, GE, IBM, and Disney Interactive.  However, aside from the Electric Umbrella, Mouse Gears, Club Cool, and the Character Spot, Innoventions East and West still seem to be a big chunk of unused potential.  

I think it is time Disney updates this pavilion, bringing it back to it’s early days of glory.  It needs to be a place where people can learn about the latest technology, ways to conserve energy, and about the newest ways to communicate.  Technology is growing at such a rapid rate that having a place where guests can learn about all of that seems to make perfect sense at Epcot.  

After all, Walt Disney once said that “(he doesn’t) believe there’s a challenge anywhere in the world that’s more important to people everywhere than finding solutions to the problems of our cities. But where do we begin… how do we start answering this great challenge?”  I believe we can start to answer these questions by bringing back the exhibits at Innoventions East and West that will inspire the future generations to make the world a better place.

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Looking Back to Look Forward: Spaceship Earth

Walt Disney’s dream of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow came to life in October 1982 with the opening of the second Florida theme park for The Walt Disney Company.  Throughout the years, Epcot has experienced changes from the name of the park to its attractions.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be discussing each of the original pavilions at EPCOT Center.  We will take a look at the history of the pavilion as well as a look into its current state and beyond.

Disney Avenue
As Walt Disney once said, “(EPCOT) will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed but will always be introducing and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise."

Walt Disney World

Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth is the iconic geodesic sphere that serves as the symbol of Epcot.  The structure was designed with the help of Ray Bradbury, a science fiction writer who also helped write the original story line for the attraction.  The attraction is a 15-minute dark ride through the history of human communication via an omnimover system.  Since it’s opening, Spaceship Earth has had four narrators: Lawrence Dobkin, Walter Cronkite, Jeremy Irons, and Judi Dench.


Looking Back

Just four years after its opening, Spaceship Earth experienced its first renovation where its sponsor became AT&T and the iconic ‘Tomorrow’s Child’ song became the finale music to the attraction.  In 1994, the attraction closed again for major renovations to update the several scenes and introduce a new score by Edo Guidotti as well as a new narrator, Jeremy Irons.

Getty Images
For the Millennium Celebration, The Walt Disney Company added a Mickey Mouse arm holding a wand saying ‘2000’ over Spaceship Earth.  In 2001, the ‘2000’ was replaced with ‘Epcot’ and remained perched on the side of Spaceship Earth until 2007 when it was finally removed.

While the wand was being removed, the attraction also went under another renovation to include new scenes, a new musical score by Bruce Broughton, new narration by Judi Dench, and a new sponsorship from Siemens.  This update also introduced the a new interactive ending to the attraction where riders can choose their own version of the future to live in.

Walt Disney World

Looking Forward

It has been nearly ten years since Spaceship Earth has undergone a major renovation, but with the new updates coming to Epcot, it’s safe to assume that they have something up their sleeve for Spaceship Earth as well.  After all, the history of communication part of the attraction ends with the invention of the personal computer.  Look at how far we have come since then!  There are so many possibilities for an updated Spaceship Earth, and I am anxious to see what the future will hold.

Following every renovation in the past, there has also been the introduction of a new musical score and new narrator, so it’s safe to assume that a new narrator and score could be on the horizon.  Personally, I would love for "Tomorrow’s Child" to be incorporated back into the attraction in some way.  As for narrators, I just hope they stay away from some flash-in-the-pan artist and go with a Disney Legend or Tom Hanks.

Robyn Fleenor
Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, Spaceship Earth has been educating and entertaining guests of all ages for almost thirty-five years.  We may not know what will happen next to our beloved attraction, but if history repeats itself, the next renovation will still tell the story of our ancestors as well as what our future could be like. 

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Tips for the DCP: Arriving

After you’ve made it through the grueling application and interview process of the Disney College Program, it is time to buckle down and get ready for a crazy awesome experience.  


When I moved to Florida for the DCP, I had my 1997 Honda Civic as full as I could get it.  We won’t talk about how when I moved home two years later how I came back in a full moving truck.  That Cast Member discount though…

Anyway, packing for the move can be hard, especially if you’ve never lived in Florida before.  Florida heat is very different from most places, and you’ll wonder why you ever bought three jackets with you in the first place.  On the other hand, after being in the hot sun all day in a less than flattering, probably polyester costume, you’ll start to get chilly once the sun goes down.  I’ve been out of the Sunshine State for years now and I still get cold when the temperature goes below seventy.  

Yeah.  That purchase had to happen.
The biggest thing to remember to bring with you is Disney Look appropriate attire for your days spent in Traditions and in training.  You’ll be in these clothes for long hours, so make sure it’s something comfortable.  Another very important tip: get the most comfortable shoes you can find.  Those cute heels may look great, but after having to walk all over a theme park for orientation, you will wish you had comfortable flats.  Skip the need to get dressed up and dress comfortable.  Your feet will thank you.

It also wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and get shoes to work in, although Disney does have a store of Disney Look shoes in the Magic Kingdom costume building.  Most - but not all - work locations require black closed toe slip resistant shoes.  The local shops around Walt Disney World know that Disney requires certain shoes, and they are typically good about keeping those in stock if you don’t want to purchase them before the move.

Check In

At 5 a.m. on the day of my check-in, my dad drove me to Vista Way Apartments and dropped me off.  I met up with my three roommates - whom I met via a DCP Facebook group for our arrival date -  and we waited in a long line to get our housing assignments.  Make triple sure that you and your roommates have all the necessary paperwork filled out and ready to go to make this process so much quicker.  We were super lucky and got exactly what we wanted: a two bedroom in Patterson Court.  

After getting our apartment assignments, we took the photos for our housing IDs.  Be sure you are in Disney Look for your photo.  Once they were printed, we were sent to a bus to take us to the Casting building across from Downtown Disney. (And yes, Cody, I heard you sigh just then, but back then it WAS called Downtown Disney).

WDW News Today


After arriving at the Casting building, we were escorted inside and into another line while we waited to fill out more paperwork and get fingerprinted.  It is here - while waiting in the rotunda of the Casting building - that you will be given your work location.  It’s a moment filled with so much excitement that you’ll totally forget you’ve been up since before the sun to just wait in a bunch of lines.

The hours spent at Casting will take you through a maze of the offices as you set up payroll deduction for your housing payments, have a background check and possibly a drug test, and verify your employment eligibility.  For me, it took about two hours to go through the whole process at the Casting building.  Once everything is complete, you’re free to go back to your apartments.


At the time of my program, Patterson Court was the newer apartment complex.  We were on the third floor which made for tons of fun during the move into and out of the apartment.  Each complex is different and everyone seems to have a favorite.  Patterson Court was referred to as the retirement community when I was there as it was the quieter of the complexes - a fact I loved.

My little corner of Patterson Court.
If you bring your own car (which I would highly recommend for those who can) be sure to get a parking tag for your car.  You wouldn’t want to be heading out to work to find your car has been towed.  If you’re forgoing the car to take the bus, make sure you plan ahead to get to work.  Buses are on a schedule, and there's even apparently an app out there now to track your bus, but you want to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get from the bus stop to your work location.

Once you are settled into your apartment, it would be wise to go on to the grocery store.  I know it seems like such a boring task, but your next few days and weeks are going to be crazy, and you will glad to have food at the apartment when you come home.

All participants are required to attend a housing meeting, which typically takes place on your second day of the program.  Generally, it’s a free day otherwise, so be sure to take advantage of your new surroundings.  Drive to your work location or take the bus just to see how traffic and everything is on your commute.  You can’t get into the parks yet so take this day to prepare for impending adventure and get some sleep.  It’s a long standing joke that CP doesn’t stand for College Program but instead Closing Person.  You’ll be working crazy hours in the weeks to come, so don’t forget to get sleep while you can.

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263.