Retro Disney World Podcast
76 - The Spirt of America - 1988 July 4th Spectacular

76 - The Spirt of America - 1988 July 4th Spectacular

July 2, 2022

This month, we take you through the glorious two-hour special that is The Walt Disney World Fourth of July Spectacular from 1988. This is a commentary on the entire special, which is on YouTube currently on many different channels. Here is the link we used: Click Here. As we go through this discussion, we look at each section, analyzing how things have changed and also how the special seems just a bit off.

The entire show is filled with celebrity appearances, song and dance numbers, testimonials, and even the Beach Boys. We notice many instances of synergy within the company and even some super early shots of Disney-MGM and the backlot/Streets of America in 1988. Todd leads us on this one as we get into who is who throughout the special. We hope you enjoy this Fourth of July special as we take you back to 1988 and a different era for the Walt Disney Company. Enjoy!

75.5 - A chat with Ray DeForest

75.5 - A chat with Ray DeForest

June 27, 2022

On this episode, we are joined by Disney entertainer Ray DeForest. Ray spent many years in Walt Disney World entertainment and has a large number of stories and tales we are so excited to hear.  Throughout this episode, we discuss how Ray got his start with the Walt Disney Company in Washington, DC, and then how he made his way to central Florida. As you will learn, Ray was a pioneer in WDW entertainment, working in everything from characters, dancing, performing in the two theme parks, and more. We also hear some great side stories about flying in ‘The Mouse’, where the entertainment offices are, and also how he was able to beat the heat performing in front of the castle.

Ray has two areas of performance that caught our attention though; The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and the opening day celebration at EPCOT Center. Ray talks with JT in detail about these two exciting but different opportunities he was given at Walt Disney World.  If you have ever seen any of the guide books with photos of the opening of EPCOT Center, you have seen Ray on stage ushering in the 21st Century in 1982. The Hoop-Dee-Doo segment of this interview has Ray sharing some fond memories, giving a few secrets, and also paying tribute to some other amazing cast members.

Ray shared with us a number of great photos from his time at Walt Disney World. He really was part of something special back then and we are so lucky we were able to discuss all of this with him. To find Ray online, take a look at the following sites:
– Doris Dear: YouTubeInstagramWebsite
– Ray’s Instagram

75 - Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure

75 - Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure

June 8, 2022

The Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure was one of the early attractions at the Disney-MGM Studios that opened in late 1990, following the success of the film Honey I Shrunk the Kids which opened in 1989. Before we start, let’s read a small blurb from a WDW press photo:

‘A Big Ride For Little Tykes: Kids who visit the ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure’ can climb on board an extra-large sized ant, just like in the hit movie! The gigantic scaled backyard play area is the newest addition to the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park and has made a ‘big’ impression on park visitors. With three-story-tall blades of grass, lifeboat-sized cereal bits, and a twenty-foot tall paper clip, the re-creation of the movie set allows guests to experience the special effects of movie-making firsthand (1991)’

In this episode we start with the film itself and the success of this movie. Back then, this movie was made way different and it lent perfectly to the Disney-MGM Studios and the reason for the park attractions. We dig into the ride from start to finish, including the location at MGM-Studios and how each little part of this attraction was presented. If you attended this as an adult or a child, you had different experiences. As a kid, it was an amazingly cool playground that made you really feel like you were in the movies. As an adult, it was a chance to take a minute to relax, and most times, the adults participated with their kids, which is awesome.

This entire attraction lasted until 2016, which is insane if you think about it. We also get into some rehabs that occurred, which saw some new add-ons put into the play area due to sponsorships and partnerships. Some items were needed while others were very specifically placed for a reason. Overall, this was super close to an opening day attraction for MGM-Studios and everyone treats it as one of the originals from that park, which it felt like. Nowadays, this is currently Galaxy’s Edge and there really is nothing left of it. We hope you enjoy this look back on this classic attraction that took the concept of a playground and ramped it up to an eleven. 

74.5 - RetroMagic50 Recap

74.5 - RetroMagic50 Recap

May 16, 2022

After months of planning and organizing, RetroMagic 50 has come and gone. Over the long weekend, all of us had an amazing time putting on this event and we hope everyone that attended enjoyed themselves. When an event like this starts to take shape, we have a rough idea as to how we want the day to go. We also have learned from our past events, trying to include what people like, enjoy, and even request. Throughout all the planning though, we try to create an event that we would want to attend.

In this short episode, we recap the entire weekend from start to finish: the behind-the-scenes stories, our reactions to how things went, and so much more. If you were able to attend RetroMagic 50, this episode will be a great follow-up to the whirlwind day we all experienced back in April. If you did not make it to RetroMagic this time around, we will be posting up our event videos on our YouTube channel soon. Please make sure you are subscribed and ready to enjoy these amazingly edited videos.

Finally, we want to thank all of our volunteers who made this event possible. The list is massive and without you: hotel bookings, transportation, set-up, cleaning, organizing, folding, building, welcoming, passing out, and more would not have happened. Thank you so much for your help during the event and also leading up to RetroMagic 50. We hope everyone enjoys this mini-episode recap and be sure to check back for normal episodes soon; we have so many great topics coming your way.

72 - Maelstrom

72 - Maelstrom

April 4, 2022

In this episode, we are taking you back to EPCOT Center and more specifically, the Norway pavilion and Maelstrom. How has been hard at work researching and also editing this episode together for your listening enjoyment. We hit on the 1988 television special, starring Willard Scott. If you have never seen this, take a minute after you listen to the episode to enjoy this: Grand Opening of Maelstrom

The high seas Viking adventure was billed as a stormy boat ride with tons of excitement, danger, and thrills. Many articles were written to describe how amazing this ride was going to be and the hype machine was up and running at full speed. This really was the first thrill ride at EPCOT Center, so they played that angle as much as possible. How guides us through so many neat aspects about how this ride came to be, including the items the sponsors wanted to see on the ride. You have to remember how these early EPCOT Center rides came to be and how they were funded. This was a very different era at Walt Disney World that we all know and love, but things came to be in an entirely different way.

Throughout this episode, we hit on everything from the woodwork colors, how the queue changed a bit, which imagineers actually worked on this project, and so much more. One fun fact, this ride was designed entirely on computers through CAD and no hand-drawn items were used to help create the track layout.

As we get through this episode, we spend a good amount of time discussing the closure of this ride. This is one of the more recent closures of a classic attraction that can be debated for hours. Were you one of the fans that did not want to see this go? Are you happy with the replacement? We get into all of this at length, as we feel it is an important part of the history of Maelstrom. This ride truly had that 80s EPCOT Center feel that lasted into the 2000s and beyond, until Frozen was a hit. We appreciate you taking the time to listen to the history of Maelstrom and we hope you enjoyed this super detailed look at the classic EPCOT attraction.

74 - Vacation Planning

74 - Vacation Planning

March 1, 2022

As we get started on our main topic, get out your old pamphlets, flyers, books, magazines, and leaflets. This month we are talking all about planning your Walt Disney World Vacation from the early years all the way up to the mid-90s. The ways this has changed over the years is fascinating when you dig into all the details and ways to book. Todd takes the lead for Episode 74, digging into old planning guides and comparing them to some of his own trips, especially his 1980 visit.

Throughout this episode, you are going to notice a world of vacation packages that you might have never heard of before. Everything from small trips to massive all-inclusive style trips with camcorders and meals included. The inflation calculator is brought out often so we can get a somewhat accurate comparison to what we have nowadays. We were super curious if one of our listeners would be sitting down with their slide rule and spreadsheets to compare what the best deal was and when it took place back then...

Todd also digs into some tickets and options for each package back then, which we discuss how you went about booking in the 70s and 80s. There was no internet and there was no google to check on what was being offered. The options seemed to be always changing and always evolving, which isn't too different when compared to trips of today.

As always, we also go off on a bit of a tangent about rental cars, vehicles in the 70s/80s, and of course the Chevrolet Citation. While we were talking, Brian remembered the old Citation commercial and he also reminisces a bit about his mid-80s rental car being an Oldsmobile Calais. This episode led most of us to dig into our ephemera boxes again to compare notes and also look at the various vacation packages that we seem to overlook for more exciting imagery over planning details. Do you have anything unique in your piles at home? Send them in so we can add them to the archive of ephemera on the site. Also, take a look at our gallery of ephemera that is loaded with tons of great stuff.

73 - New Years Eve: Music to Your Ears

73 - New Years Eve: Music to Your Ears

January 27, 2022

Let us take you back to the New Years Eve of old as we run through all the events of the past and their included musical numbers! Nearly 50 clips of the hottest-bands at the time, and some wash-ups as well!

71.5 - Listener Memories

71.5 - Listener Memories

November 27, 2021

Welcome to Episode 71.5 of the RetroWDW Podcast: 50th Anniversary Memories - We appreciate your support and hope you have been enjoying each and every episode. Be sure to check out some of our previous shows from over the years. We have visited multiple parks, resorts, and just about everything else in between. We hope you stick with us through 2021 as we bring you some great content that will take you back to WDW each month.

For this episode, we are focusing on you the listener, and all the feedback you sent us from Episode 71. The outpouring of memories was overwhelming and we felt we needed to showcase this on an episode. While we do not have time to get through everyone, this episode features many of you and also what you had to say. If you enjoy memories, you won't want to skip this one. We get into lots of great stories that were shared with us and we hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Main Topic / Listener Mail

For this main topic, the plan is to give you a short synopsis of each letter we discuss. This should help guide you through this episode and also give you a letter or two to look forward to if the topic matches your interest. 

Jim: Discusses visiting the parks with his children, which changed his magical experience, including the Crystal Palace character meal. The WDW sign was a huge hit for his children and they even moved to Florida. Jim is also a fan of just sitting on a bench too!
John: To start, reminds us that the shells from the Polynesian are Puka Shells. John also brings up 'South of the Border' signs which appear on the highway. He remembers staying at Fort Wilderness, staying on the Jack Rabbit Run Loop, and of course the boat/train whistle. Cinderella Castle
Craig: Gives us some great examples of the legendary WDW customer service, including freebies and meeting Mickey. Craig also praises Lego Land for its customer service. We all get into our stories about freebies and how it's the little things that make a big difference.
Claudia: Starts with some phases of the trip/visit. Also, Claudia gets into the past visits with people who have passed on. She also gets into closed-down attractions and also spoilers before visiting an attraction. Finally, she discusses WDW customer service.
Matt: Sent us a story about customer service at Fort Wilderness. The bed was too soft and at 8pm, cast members drove over to fix the situation in an unimaginable way. Great story Matt!
Ramon: Really enjoyed Episode 71 and he felt it was so nice to be unscripted. He will be traveling to Fort Wilderness soon and puts Episode 71 in his top three.
Michael: Felt the last episode was somewhat therapeutic and also made him think a bit at the end. When getting into where things are heading for the parks, maybe we are not the target audience anymore... Michael also gave us a call! Thanks, Michael!
Scott: Sent this through Instagram, Scott really enjoyed Episode 71. Thanks for your kind words about our show and past episodes. We discuss our different visits, history, and trip experiences.
@JLBNerdy: Episode 71 brought her to tears and she is going in November, taking her niece for the first time. We hope you have a fabulous trip!
Josh: Joined the show around the time of our Horizons episodes, playing catchup ever since. Happy 50th to you Josh!
Andrew: This is another voicemail and Andrew tells us about ordering a cake on Main Street, taking that cake to the Contemporary, then enjoying the Electrical Water Pageant. This is amazing and we all would love to spend our birthday like this.
Bob: Discusses major news events that occur when you are in the parks. Bob also defends Todd and the Gold Key Package, which of course is for high rollers only. Todd vows to cover this on a future episode or movie night.
@JustEllenIGuess: Would like to hear more stories and loved the format of our last episode. We work to keep it real, research the memories to verify them and also keep it respectful. Brian still thinks 20k is a boring ride!
@ServoIsNaked: Discusses Tiny Mic and plans to sit on the lip-shaped couch interviewing anybody and everybody once we set that up. This refers to Mariah Carey and her couch requests for the castle stay.
Scott: We get another voicemail and Scott loved everything WDW. His first visit wasn't until 1994, but it was like a dream come true. 24 trips later and he still loves every aspect of his WDW vacations.
Justin: We heard from Justin on the Retro Line, he shares a sad memory. His mom took him to WDW when she was battling cancer and he has many fond memories from his trips to WDW. Special people connect us to the parks.
Nathan: Wrote to us about How and his disgust for Champion's Gate Traffic. This is great! We even get Walt talking directly to How, which is hilarious. We also get a live look at the traffic near Champion's Gate.
Michele: A WDW College Program student, we hear about a special walkway between Universe of Energy & Mission Space. This was a favorite place for Michele to sit, enjoy a coffee or donut and just relax. We all discuss our favorites around the property.
Joe: Another voicemail and this one is about his memory from 1985 at Fort Wilderness. They drove from NJ and went for a walk at night, stumbling upon Chip & Dale roasting marshmallows. Joe also leaves another message, this time all about a celebrity encounter.

We would like to wrap up by letting everyone know that our little podcast, run by four random guys that randomly met, has passed one million downloads. This is awesome and we are so thankful that so many of you have decided to download our show and join us as we share memories each month. The news of a million is still tough to comprehend, but we love doing this for our listeners and also sharing memories with you.

RetroMagic Fifty

Tickets are on sale now! We announced our RetroMagic 50 VIP List and we cannot wait to see you on April 24, 2022. Should you have any questions regarding this upcoming event, please send us a message so we can help you out.

Click Here To Purchase Tickets

Tickets are going quickly and you will not want to miss out on our next big event.

2021: Year Two of Film

To make sure you are the first to know when items are released, subscribe to us on YouTube. Be sure to click the notification bell too, that way you are alerted when we post.  Finally, be sure to check out Vimeo if that is your thing, as we will post there as well.

Post-Show Fun

71 - 50 Years

71 - 50 Years

October 12, 2021

Listener Mail

The mailbag is full and ready to sift through. Be sure to reach out with questions, stories, memories, and more. You never know if your letter will be read on a future episode:

  1. Brian is up next with a celebrity sighting at WDW. He spotted Mick Foley at Cinderella’s Royal Table, tried to snap a photo and made a minor mistake… This is a great story and we would love to see that photo!
  2. Katie wrote us about Mariah Carey and what she required to stay in the castle. This leads to a major tangent about couches, which of course is why you tune in to the RetroWDW Podcast.
  3. We heard from Michael Landis about the infamous Monorail Pilots License – if you have never seen one of these, check it out. Obviously, these aren’t around anymore, but this was a neat perk of riding upfront in the monorail.
  4. Miranda has a question – When did the Plaza Restaurant inside the Magic Kingdom open up at the current location?
  5. Joe, among many others, reached out about our challenge in regards to celebrities appearing in more than one attraction. We discuss a few of these that were emailed to us, along with some other ideas listeners had.

Main Topic

As we get started, this episode will be a little different than what you are used to. For the 50th Anniversary, how do we celebrate that at RetroWDW? We bounced many ideas around, including lists, top 50, sharing memories, and even going back to cover the various anniversary specials. Brian gets us started discussing the way things used to be, which all of us can do for hours on end, you the listener included. Each of us has stories and special things that we remember from the past fifty years. Experiences, memories, family trips, events; we all have so many things to share and reminisce about. This episode is all about that.

Throughout Episode 71, we don’t sit on just one topic or park. Many of the stories are personal and lead to more tangents, but we think you’re really going to connect and relate to many of these observations from the past fifty years. As we worked our way through this recording, it’s tough to bring together fifty years of vacationing. The kingdom has so many things for so many people, including us. We are always looking for what’s next, our future trips, and making memories. This podcast is all about memories at Walt Disney World, even if they are super detailed and take us all down a rabbit hole. From Episode 71 all the way back to Episode 1, this show, website, videos, and our events have added another layer of WDW to all of our lives. As we continue to add to our individual and group stories about trips to WDW, we hope you continue to join us each month.

RetroMagic Fifty

We have set our date for the next big Lake Buena Vista Historical Society event: RetroMagic 50. We will all be back at Walt Disney World in 2022 for this weekend-long event which takes place April 23-24.

Please click the following link to sign up for ticket sale information and notifications. We hope to see you all real soon!

70 - Monster Sound Show

70 - Monster Sound Show

September 13, 2021

Corrections & Comments

We start off this episode with some corrections and comments from the last couple of months.

  1. Jim is our first correction, which was very similar to some others we received. We were all corrected on our Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman relationship history, which we wrongly stated they met during Far and Away filming. It was actually on the set of Days of Thunder - thanks for helping us out with that one.
  2. How gives us some insight into the 2003 Adventurer's Club from an anonymous source. This person saw the backside of the genie head bureau, cast wardrobe, and offers up some backstage secrets regarding The Adventurer's Club. If you didn't catch last month, be sure to listen to our podcast focusing mostly on this club.

Listener Mail

The mailbag is full and ready to sift through. Be sure to reach out with questions, stories, memories, and more. You never know if your letter will be read on a future episode:

  1. Jeremy scanned some photos from 1986 and shared them with us. He has tons of good stuff you have to check out. CLICK HERE to see his photo collection - Thanks Jeremy!
  2. Andy is up next with a small Disney connection story. Douglas Cuddle Toys made the small plus toys we spoke about during our Crescent Lake Episode. Andy happened to be in the neighborhood and stopped by. He shared a photo with us and we really appreciate that. Thanks Andy, great find!
  3. Tom from Detroit wrote us about the Adventurer's Club, discussing the falling bar stool gag. He experienced this joke at The Safe House bar, which sounds like a blast. Check it out
  4. Next up, we heard from Mitch. He discusses the Jekyll & Hyde Bar in NYC. We discussed this in the episode and How gives some more comparisons.
  5. John Kuzner wrote us about Antique's Roadshow and how they had a display with 'dolphins'. These are super similar to the Dolphin Resort dolphins we have all seen, so take a look and see what you think. Photo1  Photo2
  6. Darryl wrote in regarding some great footage from 1974. We would LOVE to restore this footage, so fingers crossed you still have the film... Let us know!
  7. Finally, Robert C wrote in about actually roller skating at XZFR. We want to hear more Robert, so let us know of any stories, memories, or things that happened at XZFR. Robert also hit on the much-loved opinion about the Adventurer's Club we discussed last episode.

Giveaway - 'Decade'

Todd picked our random winner of 'The Disney Decade' - Jennifer is our winner! Congratulations and we hope you enjoy the book.

Main Topic

This month, we take you back to the early days of the Disney-MGM Studios. When the park first opened, it was mostly show and attraction-based with less emphasis on rides. You may have noticed before we got to the main topic here, but this episode sounds a little bit different. We are recording in <[{stereo}]> and this adds an amazingly fun layer to this episode, which is all about sound. Todd starts us off with our old friends at Birnbaum, most importantly 1989. This attraction was not very well known at the start as most people really didn't know what was going on in this show building.

How as at Disney-MGM Studios on opening day, which we discussed in Episode 10. In the early days of the Disney MGM-Studios, movies and technology were used in much different ways compared to how they are now. Even our podcast process is so much more advanced than most everything at the studios back in the day. Sound design, engineering, and effects all had their own 'movie magic' way about them. Even to this day, the sound design makes or breaks a movie. If done properly, it makes for an outstanding movie experience and also have created some timeless sound effects over the years. The Monster Sound Show was an attraction that allowed park guests to experience this process in a fun way that put them right in the action of movie-making. Such a perfect attraction for those early days at the studios.

As a group, we discuss the involvement of David Letterman, which was somewhat an odd fit for the time period. At the same time though, we go over all the aspects he was used for in this attraction, including a Top Ten List. Todd leads us through this attraction which includes many sound gags for you, the listener. If you have never experienced this attraction in person, this episode will help you paint a great picture in your mind. What is amazing about the Monster Sound Show is that it starts Chevy Chase and Martin Short. Two SNL alums and also two actors who are in so many classic comedy films of the 80s and 90s. The timing of them being in this attraction is perfect. As we get through this attraction, don't forget to visit Soundworks post-show. The documentation of this area is very limited, so if you have any photos of video of this post-show area, let us know. This area is also where we learn about the styrofoam head that How brought into the parks in an attempt to capture the audio of some of these small post-show audio gags. Overall though, if sound and movies are your thing, you would have really enjoyed this attraction and area overall. The movie-making business back in the 80s was featured in so many unique ways throughout this theme park. We hope you got a sense of this attraction through clever audio and everything in stereo.

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