Monday, February 2, 2009

Disney Behind the Scenes Day 1

Today was day 1 of "The Mystery Behind the Magic," a wonderful Elderhostel program through the auspices of Stetson University of DeLand, Florida, the first private university in Florida (1883). We arrived last night for supper and orientation, before being released so we could watch what turned out to be an awesome Super Bowl game. This photo is from our room on the 14th floor of the Lake Buena Vista Resort Best Western overlooking the Disney Downtown area, taken at dusk...

Our first stop was Epcot, arriving by bus in the back area and entering before the park opened through a cast member entrance. No photos are allowed in the "backstage" areas. In Disney parlance, the areas that guests visit are "on stage" areas, and everywhere else is "backstage," and all 60,000 Disney employees, from CEO to maintenance are "cast members." Below is our Disney facilitator (guide) Carmen, talking to us via personal communication devices in our ear, and to her right is Cindy from the Horticulture department, who gave us tons of info on the plantings in each "country" of Epcot's World Showcase. Carmen continually amazed us with details regarding the planning, construction, maintaining, and operating of the parks, and also pointed out "hidden treasures" of the park that most guests never notice or are aware of.

As I mentioned above, we were not allowed to take any photos that showed behind the scenes work, and that included any shots with vehicles, hoses, cleaning, repairing, gardening, etc. We saw a young man feeding the koi in the pond, and he allowed me to assist as seen here...

You may have noticed in the above photo that I have my rain gear on. It drizzled all morning and rained harder all afternoon, but it was still a wonderful day for us. Here's a shot of the indoors of the Mexico pavilion before it opened, depicting an outdoor street scene...

The afternoon tour, following lunch at the Norway pavilion, was called "Inspiration through Walt's Eyes" and traced events and locales in his life which were fundamental to him having created all his ideas, and detailed the ups-and-downs of his earlier years before achieving success. We made a stop at Disney Hollywood where some of the locales of importance in his life have been recreated.

The next stop was the amazing Central Shops where the magic is created (floats, all cars for the rides, animatronic people and creatures, etc.) The building is larger than 9 football fields and we toured the entire facility, seeing new creatures being constructed and regular maintenance performed on items from all the parks. Of course, no photos are allowed here, either.

The final stop was Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, which we hit just at parade time. Due to the rain, though, the parade was canceled and replaced by a "Cavalcade of Characters" where the cast members drive or walk the parade route cavorting to music.

It was a great day, despite the weather, and we still have 3 more full days of exploration and adventure yet to come, so check back here for the next installments.

Behind the Scenes -- Day 2

Behind the scenes -- Day 3

Behind the Scenes -- Day 4

To see my other Disney posts, click "Disney" in the "labels" section in the sidebar to the right.

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