||In This Newsletter
From the Authors: Back From MouseFest!
Travel Feature: The Terracotta Army Invades London
Disney Feature: How To Be An Adult (But Act Like A Kid) At Walt Disney World
Updates: What's New and Changed
Tips: Tag Sale Treasures, Lost Child Labels, Potato Chip Power
Captain's Corner: Goofonium
Captain's Corner: Photo Hunt
Q&A: How Often to Use Flounder's Nursery on a Disney Cruise?
Our Sponsors: We Recommend...
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Some lucky guests report having the opportunity to ride Spaceship Earth at Epcot over the last week. The ride is still technically closed for rehab but if you are in the right place at the right time, you may be able to get a sneak preview! PassPorter message board Guide statelady01 reports: "For those of you heading to the World soon, they seemed to be opening doors in the barrier walls in intermittent time frames, letting a large group in before closing them. I don't want to spoil any future experiences for anyone but the ride is very interactive in the last portions (even though we experienced glitches- it's all good!) and the audio animatronics have GREATLY improved. Painted scenes got a much needed freshen up. And one of my favorite "little" things -- the chariot running in the back streets of Rome -- has remained."
What's New and Changed
Here are a few items of relevant news:
Disney has announced that Best Friends Pet Care, Inc., a Connecticut-based pet boarding, day care and grooming company (where PassPorter News Editor Sara Varney boards her dog Max while they travel) will be taking over the operation of the five existing kennels at Walt Disney World as well as creating a new "resort" for pets. Expect to see price increases as well as added "extras" for pets such as play times, grooming and bottled water.
The 2008 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World will take place March 19 - June 1, 2008. Several artists performing at the festival's Flower Power Concerts have already been announced, subject to change:
March 19 - 22 The Guess Who
March 23 - 24 Petula Clark
March 25 - 29 Paul Revere and the Raiders
April 6 - 9 Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone
April 10 - 12 The Grass Roots Starring Rob Grill
April 14 - 16 The Happenings
April 17 - 18 Peter & Gordon
April 19 - 23 Starship Starring Mickey Thomas
April 24 - 26 The Ventures
April 27 - 30 B.J. Thomas
May 4 - 5 The Searchers
May 6 - 10 The Tokens
May 11 - 15 Davy Jones
May 16 - 17 Jose Feliciano
May 21 - 24 Gary Puckett
May 25 - 27 The Cowsills
Our thanks to AllEars.net and MousePlanet.com from which we get some of our news leads.
Hear some news? Be a "PassPorter Reporter" and send it to us!
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From Fellow Readers
Our readers deliver a wealth of information! Here are the winners in this month's tip contest:
TAG SALE TREASURES
"Over the summer, I collected anything Disney I could find at yard sales. I bought a photo album, stuffed animals, Monsters Inc characters, backpacks, etc... all for very little money, usually less than 0.50 cents for each thing. I packed all of them in my suitcase and brought them with us on our trip. Each evening after the parks, I would give my kids their "gift." They loved it and I saved huge amounts of money."
-- contributed by Helen R.
LOST CHILD LABELS
"Before our trip to Disney World, I print out a sheet of address labels that say "If I can't find my parents, please call them at ___." I then list our cell phone numbers. I print out enough for each day, and stick a label to the inside bottom hem of my kids' shirts. If they get separated from us, my kids know to find a cast member and show them the label."
-- contributed by Dana H.
POTATO CHIP POWER
"People have said to use tennis ball containers to put your maps, napkins, etc. in so they don't get wet. I bought some potato chips in the plastic containers. You just eat the chips and you keep the container for your trip. I even removed the label and decorated mine with Disney stickers."
-- contributed by Laura R.
Send us your tips! You may see them in this newsletter and win a copy of PassPorter!
Want more Disney tips? For Walt Disney World fans, we've collected 500 of the best tips submitted by readers over the past six years. All have been edited for accuracy and categorized. For details, visit the PassPorter Disney 500 info page or the PassPorter store. For Disney Cruise Line fans, we have an e-book with 250 cruiser tips, as well as a special cruise line comparison section and seven customized packing lists. For information, visit the Disney Cruise Clues info page.
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Treasure Hunting Game
Play our fun and quirky treasure hunting game, hosted by Captain Jack Skatt from our book, "PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World."
Here is this week's journal entry:
The Captain makes a study of the delightful details -- sometimes hidden, sometimes in plain sight but often overlooked -- at Walt Disney World and aboard the Disney Cruise Line. Using notes from his journals, he will lead you to this "treasure" at Disney with clues, questions, photos, or riddles. Your challenge is to discover the answer by searching your memory, visiting Disney, or even just looking really hard on the Internet. If you think you've found the answer, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org -- the first person to correctly submit the FULL answer will receive a free PassPorter enamel pin or PassPorter name badge pin.
"Ah, what a vacation. I had so much fun, I need a vacation from my vacation. Since I'm not going to get another vacation for a while (that Jennifer is such a taskmaster!), I'm stocking up on pick-me-ups like coffee, tea, and SUGAR! I happen to know my pal Goofy has a great stash of candy, so I headed over to his place to stock up. While there, I discovered that Goofy is quite the scientist. He's discovered the actual chemical make up of Disney characters, creating unique elements for each and categorizing them in the Goofy Periodic Table of Elements. For example, Goofy himself is composed of Goofonium! Makes sense!"
Where is the Goofy Periodic Table of Elements posted and what is the Atomic Symbol for Goofonium? For bonus points, locate the photographic evidence in the PassPorter Photo Archive and post a comment with the photo!
Send your full answer to email@example.com -- the winner will be notified by e-mail and announced in a future newsletter, along with the correct answer!
Congratulations to Oldersis1 who was the winner of last week's trivia contest! Oldersis1 was the first person to identify the location of the painting as the Solarium at the Beach Club Resort. She was also the first person to find the photo in the Photo Archive and post a comment. To view the original clue, see last week's newsletter.
If you enjoy treasure hunts, we've got an entire book with over 100 distinct treasure hunts and over 1500 questions, complete with clues and contributions from Captain Jack Skatt. Get more details on "PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World" book at http://www.passporterstore.com.
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Each issue we choose a special photo from the PassPorter Photo Archive which highlights something beautiful, interesting, humorous, or timely at Disney or around the world. Here is this issue's PassPorter PhotoPick:
Epcot Christmas Tree
contributed by chezp
(click the photo or link to see a larger photo with details)
You can nominate photos as a PassPorter PhotoPick by giving ratings in the PassPorter Photo Archive (you'll need to be logged in to do this). If you'd like to contribute your own photos to the Photo Archive and be considered as a PhotoPick, please read our Photo Upload Guidelines for details and benefits.
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Q & A:
With Jennifer and Dave
shruley asks: "During our upcoming Disney cruise, we'd like to put our daughter in Flounder's Reef Nursery several nights around dinner time for about 2 hours so we could enjoy part of dinner or the shows without having to hold up the jumping bean. (Besides that she'll love it I'm sure.) I know they have a 10 hour limit. Can I reserve 5 nights for 2 hours each? We will obviously first try to coordinate Flounders with whatever Palo reservations we can get. Someone mentioned just putting her on a waiting list for every night of the cruise, that they had no problems getting their kids in. Anyone done this?"
Dave and Jennifer answer: "Flounder's Reef has an initial limit of 10 hours, to make sure there's opportunity for all. However, we've never had trouble getting more time if necessary once aboard.
Once you have your Palo reservation, Flounders will make room for your child at the appointed time. I'd allow at least three hours in Flounders for a Palo dinner - the meal itself never takes less than two hours, and often more, and you need some time before and after dinner.
Two hours is a bit brief for meal and/or show, though. Dinner will usually take at least 1.5 hours (we usually take closer to two). The shows run about an hour, but you need time to get from place to place, arrive and find a seat, etc. I suggest you think in terms of three-hour bookings, rather than two. You may just find that regular dinners with the "jumping bean" go better than expected - the servers do a lot to help out. Plan on bringing your child to the first dinner on board, so your dining room team gets to meet her."
Have a question? Post questions at http://www.passporterboards.com -- and if you're lucky, you may find that folks have already asked and answered the same question that's on your mind!
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Want To See Your Name in Print?
PassPorter News is published weekly, and this means we're always in need of articles! We're on the lookout for guest columnists who want to contribute articles to this newsletter. No professional writing experience is necessary, just a desire to share your experience with others! Not only is this a great way to give something back to the PassPorter community, but you get to see your name in "print" and receive a $25 gift certificate for use at www.passporter.com.
For details and our article submission guidelines, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Articles about Disney and general travel are welcomed!
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PassPorter only accepts advertising from services of the highest quality -- we recommend these companies because we use them ourselves. Please support our sponsors and, in turn, support this newsletter! This week's sponsors are (in order of appearance):
MouseEarVacations.com -- Disney Cruise Line Special Offers
Mouse Fan Travel -- Last Call! Free Ticket Upgrade
ALL STAR Vacation Homes -- Choose from more than 150 homes within 4 miles of Disney World
Thank you, sponsors!
|| From the Authors: Back From MouseFest!
To paraphrase Samantha Sterling of Walt Disney World's Adventurers Club,
Home, we're home, it's great to be here
'Though adventure keeps calling our name
Yes, we're back from nearly two weeks at Walt Disney World and on the Disney cruise, and boy, do we have a lot of laundry! MouseFest 2007 was a smashing success, if we say so ourselves (and we certainly hope the more than 1,000 who joined in the fun agree). We welcomed so many new faces and had such a great time reuniting with so many of our old friends that it was all quite overwhelming at times. From our first gathering in the Disney Cruise Line terminal on Sunday, December 2, to the Mega Mouse Meet on Saturday, December 8, to the last PassPorter-sponsored meet this past Monday, December 10 at Epcot's Biergarten ... it's hard to know where to begin.
You can get an idea of the great time we all had at MouseFest at PassPorter's Window Seat, a real-time photo trip report Jennifer made with her new iPhone. Throughout MouseFest (and afterwards, as we took a few days of much needed R and R), she was busy snapping more than 280 photos, composing captions, and immediately uploading them to the blog and the PassPorter message boards concurrently. Jennifer found her iPhone to be such an amazing travel companion (it's so much more than just a phone!) that she's working on a feature travel article for next week's PassPorter News. If you're curious how the iPhone can improve your travels (and life in general), check out the new section on our web site -- iPhone, I Travel -- with Jennifer's tips on enhancing your trip with an iPhone.
We have a whole lot of people to thank in the wide, Disney Internet community, and we promise we will do that properly in the weeks to come, but for now we want to say a special thank-you to you, our PassPorter community, for the phenomenal turnout at MouseFest and for everything you did to help make it such a great success. Hundreds of PassPorter readers were in attendance (we gave out a whole lot of our "PassPorter Pal" pins). More than a dozen PassPorter message board Guides and their families attended -- many of them hosted wonderful meets, and all brought their enthusiasm and camaraderie to the festivities. Newsletter Editor Sara Varney (Belle*) was on hand for both cruise and land, and took on the gigantic task of coordinating the volunteer effort for Mega Mouse Meet, with help from Lesley (WDWfan). The event's success is in no small part due to her efforts. PassPorter Guide Chrissi couldn't make it herself, but she put great spirit and effort into organizing the PassPorter meets and keeping the pre-MouseFest discussion flowing. We hope you can join us some day, Chrissi! Pre-MouseFest, Chad and Nikki Larner, the brother-sister team that keeps the PassPorter office humming, spent many long hours helping us prepare for the event, assembling and mailing many hundreds of MouseFest registration packets to attendees and helping with all sorts of other tasks. Chad and his family (Jennifer's sister Kim and our nieces Megan and Natalie) also joined us at MouseFest, which left Nikki (also known on our message boards as "Poor Eeyore," appropriately enough) to mind the office all on her own. Thanks, guys! Finally, a special word of thanks to Jennifer's mom, Carolyn Tody, who accompanied us throughout MouseFest and did an amazing job of taking care of Alexander so that we could focus on our MouseFest activities. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone!
We're pleased to announce our latest e-book, "PassPorter's Festivals and Celebrations at Walt Disney World," by Thomas Cackler, which is now available in the PassPorter Store as well as through the PassPorter's Club. This new e-book is a 83-page overview of all the wonderful and magical festivals, celebrations, parties, and holidays at Walt Disney World. Included are beautiful color photos and tips on maximizing your experience at the festivals and celebrations. Congratulations to Thomas Cackler and Carrie Hayward on their first project with PassPorter! To learn more about the Festivals and Celebrations e-book, get a sample page, and view the table of contents, visit http://www.passporter.com/wdw/festivals-celebrations.asp.
We're also delighted to report that the new PassPorter's Walt Disney World 2008 guidebook is off to a rousing start in the bookstores. It has been on the travel bestseller list for the past two weeks and is setting new (PassPorter) sales records in the bargain. Naturally, we think PassPorter guidebooks are a fabulous holiday gift, and whether you order them directly from the PassPorter store, or pick them up from your favorite bookseller, there's still time to slip one under the tree or into a stocking (in the case of our stocking-stuffer-sized Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney and on the Disney Cruise Line). Order from the PassPorter Store by November 17 with UPS Ground or Priority Mail shipping to get it in time for Christmas!
In this issue, PassPorter Feature Columnist Cheryl Pendry takes us to London and the "Invading" Terra Cotta Army, and PassPorter Guest Contributor Heather MacDonald gives us tips on how to enjoy Walt Disney World with child-like enthusiasm. Finally, Jack Skatt is back with a brand-new Walt Disney World Treasure Hunt. Enjoy!
Jennifer and Dave
PassPorter Publishers and Authors
|| Travel Feature:
The Terracotta Army Invades London
by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
There are some things that it's worth traveling halfway around the globe to see. Disney's theme parks are a good example of that and something else that has been attracting visitors from all over the world is China's Terracotta Army. So when you find out that some of the discoveries from that army will be arriving at the British Museum in London, right in your own back yard, there's only one thing to do -- book tickets to go and see the exhibition!
That's exactly what we did and, judging by the problems we had getting tickets, it's an exceptionally popular attraction that's drawing more crowds every day. The exhibition started in mid September and runs until 6 April 2008 and if tickets were limited when we managed to snag ours, they're almost impossible to come by now, with very few days over the next few months showing any availability on the British Museum's web site. 500 tickets are made available to buy in person at the museum every day at 9:15 am if you can't find anything online.
Entry into the exhibition is timed and your ticket will give you a 10 minute slot when you can enter. (Not unlike a Fast Pass!) As you'd expect, there are security checks and you can't take large bags in with you and they are very strict about checking that you turn your cell phones off before you enter. As well as ensuring that no-one disturbs the atmosphere of the exhibition, it also helps to keep photographers at bay. There are NO photos allowed and understandably so, as everything is kept under very low lighting levels.
The exhibition itself is in the Reading Room, which dates from the 19th century. As you walk in, if you look up, you can catch glimpses of volumes of books piled high on shelves above you, behind the newly erected black interior walls that frame the exhibition. Projected on to these are images of the Terracotta Army and stories of their history and how they were discovered.
The Army, which includes around 8,000 soldiers and their horses, protects the First Emperor of the Qin dynasty in his tomb on the outskirts of Xi'an in China. During his reign, the First Emperor achieved much and that's the focus of the first part of the exhibition, as it explains how he unified much of China and introduced many new ways of working, including a system of coins and weights and measures.
But he was determined about one thing - he did not want to die, trying out all sorts of medicines to try and prolong his life. Sadly, none worked, but at least he had made plans. Almost as soon as he became First Emperor, work started on his tomb complex and it's estimated it took 36 years to complete. Of that, so far only a fraction has been uncovered, but what has been found is staggering.
The Terracotta Army was found completely by accident in 1974 by a farmer who was digging a well. Many of the figures uncovered were, unsurprisingly, in different pieces. After all, they do date back more than 2,000 years. Painstakingly, archaeologists have restored them piece by piece and you can see that, as you gaze at some of them. This tour was never about bringing one or two items over to the British Museum. As we walked through the exhibition and got to the end section, where the figures of soldiers, acrobats, horses and strongmen are the obvious attraction, we counted at least 20 different pieces to feast your eyes on.
From generals, with their long coats, to standing and kneeling archers and the charioteers and their horses, every single soldier on display was different. The detail is amazing, with even the heels of the shoe on the kneeling archer textured and resembling today's footwear. The detail of the armor and the hinges holding it together can be clearly seen, as can details on the faces, including mustaches.
Pigments of color still remain and you can start to imagine what these life-size figures would have once looked like, complete with their war paint on. Having said that, the one example of a figure fully painted looked strangely eerie and somehow the way the Terracotta Army looks today, in just the color of the clay they were molded from, seems more fitting.
The exhibition is about more than warriors though. The First Emperor would need lots of things in the afterlife, so he was also surrounded by civil officials, unarmed and with knives to carve out writing on strips of bamboo, acrobats, musicians, a strongman and even a bird. Sadly, many of these figures are in a worse state of repair than the soldiers, with some missing arms or even heads, and here you can clearly see how they were put back together. Even so, it's still fascinating to see these figures, all of which tell us a little bit about the world all those thousands of years ago.
As we stood and stared at the figures, there was a hush in the room, as if everyone in there was just taking in the scene in stunned silence. The figures are displayed in the center of the room, so you can walk around them and study them from all sides, but they're also well protected by security measures and every so often, the quietness would be broken by the sound of alarms as someone strayed a little too close. It was a truly moving experience to be so close to such a wonder of the world and everyone is allowed to linger for as long as they want to carefully inspect the figures. That's certainly something we took full advantage of.
As we left the exhibition, I couldn't help but think about the work that's still going on today in Xi'an to excavate the First Emperor's tomb complex. Archaeologists are finding more and more every year and they believe that there is more than a generation's work still to do. You can't help but feel very small when you think about the vast size of the site and everything that's been discovered so far. No doubt I won't be the only visitor to this exhibition to be left with a real desire to head to China and see the rest of the Army for myself.
The exhibition costs 12 pounds ($24) for adults, 10 pounds ($20) for 16-18 year olds, students, and disabled people, while children under the age of 16 are free of charge, provided they're accompanied by a full-paying adult.
Tip: If you cannot get to London before the exhibit closes but you are visiting Walt Disney World, check out the "Tomb Warriors: Guardian Spirits of Ancient China" exhibit in the China pavilion at Epcot. The exhibit features a large collection of miniature replicats of the Terracotta Army, as well as other historical artifacts.
About the Author: Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to America. They were on the first 11 night sailing of the Disney Magic around the Mediterranean and are currently in Walt Disney World enjoying the holiday season.
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How To Be An Adult (But Act Like a Kid) At Walt Disney World
by Heather MacDonald, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Hello, my name is Heather and I'm a twenty-seven year old Disney-holic. People ask me all the time if I go to meetings. I don't, I just call my travel agent. I just recently returned from Walt Disney World and this trip I realized that there are some things that I'd always assumed were just for kids. Boy was I wrong! Here are some things I learned about how to bring out the kid in me.
The most important thing to remember is this: Don't be embarrassed! The cast members (CMs) have all seen people doing something sillier than whatever it is you're doing. Trust me. They've seen me skipping through Fantasyland with a fist full of balloons!
My first recommendation to bring out the 8-year-old in you is to head to the Magic Kingdom and make your first stop The Chapeau shop, which is tucked down the side street near Tony's Town Square. Pick out your favorite set of Mouse Ears and have the very talented cast member embroider your name on the back. Personally, I love my Jack Sparrow pirate ears, but the classic black are a close second. Now you are dressed and ready to go!
Next stop, if you can manage to get the much sought after reservation, is breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table. Have your picture taken with Cinderella and then head on up to breakfast. On our last visit we were the only people without children at breakfast and the cast members gave us a pirate sword and a magic wand to participate in the special "Wishes" ceremony performed by the Fairy Godmother. (Things like this also make great gifts for people back home that are jealous that they didn't get to go to Disney with you. My favorite bartender is currently using the magic wand to disappear customers from the bar at closing time!) If breakfast with Cindy and friends doesn't work out for you, I would recommend either Pooh & Friends at the Crystal Palace or Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Just find out where your favorite characters are eating breakfast and make sure you take lots of pictures. Cast members have been very good about taking group photos for me!
After breakfast, plan to take my favorite tour: Mickey's Magical Milestones. This tour is all "on stage" (no backstage access) and takes you through Walt and Mickey's history. You might even get to meet the big guy up close and personal! While it might sound like the Mickey Mouse tour is for kids, it's mostly a history lesson and perhaps better suited for adults. The tour takes about two hours and is cheap by Disney standards: only $25! Contact Guest Services or call 407-WDW-TOUR for information on booking this tour.
By now it's mid to late morning and it's time to ride some rides! Quick -- run (or skip) from Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear to Frontierland to hit Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. Don't forget to take your Mouse Ears off on the rides! Right about the peak of lunch time is the best time to ride Dumbo The Flying Elephant if you don't do it first thing in the morning. Yes, I said ride Dumbo! If actually riding Dumbo is a bit much for you, at least have someone take your picture sitting in the Dumbo photo spot next to the ride. I have mine hanging up on the refrigerator. Stop by Pirates of the Caribbean and visit with Jack before heading off to lunch. You ate a big breakfast, so you can wait until after the lunch crowds have subsided to grab a hot dog at Casey's and listen to the piano player or leave the park for something more civilized!
After lunch it's time to grab a spot to enjoy the parade. Don't be afraid to interact with the characters as they pass. Some truly magical moments can be had simply by waving or smiling at the right character!
After the parade, plan to head out of the park. Afternoons in the World get hot and crowded. All of those people who do have little kids are now awake and active and wanting to ride the rides. I vote we leave the parks for the day and relax! After a busy day in the parks I love a round of mini-golf at either one of Disney's fantastically themed putt-putts. Finally at the end of day retire at the pool bar for a nice relaxing cocktail after a quick trip down the slide into the pool! If you still have energy or have gotten your second wind, you can always head back to the park of your choice later in the evening once the crowds have thinned out.
With a little planning and the right attitude, there is magic to be had at Walt Disney World for everyone. Leave your self-consciousness at the front gate and plan to enjoy!
About the Author: A self proclaimed "Disney-holic," Heather recently returned from Walt Disney World and is already looking forward to planning her next trip.
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Did you enjoy this article? Have questions? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.passporterboards.com to discuss your Disney vacation plans. Also check out our Article Collection for more great information!
| Did You Know?
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