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MILLENNIUM MAGIC
Alese & Morton Pechter

 

We thought we might be jaded with Disney by now. We have spent many, many hours touring all the parks, riding all the rides, and seeing spectacle after spectacle .... but somehow the powers that be always come up with something new that is so exciting that we become believers again in that Disney Magic.


For Disney, The Millennium happening is 15 months long and encourages all to come Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand. All the parks have their new, special attractions. The Magic Kingdom has Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the return of the 'Main Street Electrical Parade'. Disney-MGM Studios has the nighttime magic of 'Fantasmic!', 'Disney's Doug Live!' and sports the spanking new Aerosmith Rock 'N Roller Coaster. Animal Kingdom has even more animals out on the Safari and the newest water ride, Kali River Rapids in Asia as well as a high-energy stage musical inspired by the theatrical release of 'Tarzan'. Cirque du Soleil continues to amaze audiences at Downtown Disney and the Wide World of Sports now has the Petty Driving School experience and sports activities 365 days of the year. One of our favorites, The Disney Institute is flourishing with their specialized programs and fabulous spa activities.

EPCOT YEAR 2000....

But the main focus for this 15 month celebration is at Epcot. Epcot has been re-energized for this change of the centuries. You cannot miss it. Just as the Cinderella castle was transformed into a birthday cake for their 25th anniversary celebration so the Epcot Spaceship Earth has been delegated for the year 2000 icon. Spaceship Earth is crowned with giant, glittering "2000" numerals. Soaring from a star-topped wand held by Sorcerer Mickey's unmistakable gloved hand, the whimsical symbol offers guests a larger-than-life welcome. It can be seen from almost anywhere in the park.

'Walt Disney once referred to Epcot as a 'living blueprint of the future,' ' said Al Weiss, president of Walt Disney World Resort, 'And it is in that spirit that we welcome the world to celebrate the millennium at this, our discovery park.'

LEAVE A LEGACY....

Want to leave your own mark at Disney as a memory of your millennium visit for your kids, grand kids, great grand kids ... and on and on? We were hokey enough to do it, and are pleased we did. We had a photo taken of the two of us at one of the five Photo Capture Stations located in the Epcot Entrance Plaza. The photo is then etched on a limited edition commemorative metallic tile, mounted on one of 30 sculptured granite megaliths near Spaceship Earth for all our family to see 'forever.' ... Of course, Disney will not tell you how long 'forever' is in Disney years.... they just state ... a long, long time. There is a charge for this one....$35 for one person and $38 if two are in the same photo.

 

FUTURE WORLD YEAR 2000....


In the new Future World pavilion, the Kodak Imagination! exhibit has been completely redone. The ride is a quiet one, showing what your imagination can produce. We were taken on a journey into our own imagination in a ride-through of sights, sounds and senses. Rooms turn upside down and normal turns inside out as we were challenged to increase our I.Q. .. Imagination Quotient. It is a pleasant place to relax for a few moments and cool off if the weather is warm. The end of this ride takes you to a Kodak exhibit that is exciting and new. All the latest and most modern of the digital camera possibilities can be seen and experienced here. 


We had our photos taken and then were able to email them directly to all of our friends with our own message....and there was no charge for this. We found out later that Kodak adds a message saying that it was taken at their exhibit at EPCOT. We were just sorry we did not have that many email addresses in our heads. Next time we will go with a list! They also will take a digital photo of you and then place it in another photo they have in their files ... i.e...all of the Disney characters with you in the middle ... scenes around Disney, etc. There is a charge for this one depending on what size photo you want. You can even get a poster print made.


From Kodak we headed over to Innoventions. This is one of our favorite pavilions but now it is better than ever before. This is where we can get to see all the breakthroughs in science and technology ... everything from exploratory medicine to personal global communications to the ultimate in home entertainment.

Each of the major companies has its own section. All the areas are created so that the information can be updated easily to the newest and latest in computer software and hardware. The IBM exhibit showed us their newest version of Via Voice ... a vastly improved, amazing computer software program that allows you to talk to the computer and your words appear magically on the computer screen. Also, in the hand's on exhibit is a computer you can wear as a headphone. It is about the size of the end of your thumb and absolutely amazing. It is possible to see the whole computer screen, carry a specially made "mouse" and click on your screen as you are doing other jobs. They also have the Internet Postcards station, where you pose for, compose and transmit your own postcard to friends or family through cyberspace.


Web Site Construction Zone (GO.com) .. looks like a giant oversized kids construction toy where you create and build your own home page on the World Wide Web. You can add photos, graphics and text and links to your favorite web sites including sports, news, travel and more. Afterwards you can update your own web page from your home computer. What a fabulous souvenir this is! 


Xerox has what they call ... a new re-writable paper. It looked to us like an elaborate etch-a-sketch but if it saves our trees .... fantastic! The multi-media presentation features fun and futuristic technologies such as the Electronic paper that can be used over and over again, stickers the size of postage stamps that can carry an entire map of the Magic Kingdom, and easy-to-use digital imaging systems that can manipulate photos and other documents to create interesting souvenirs.

Forest for our Future tells the story of sustainable forestry; Motorola has The Communications Dream Forum hosted by a robot, Starnac, who can actually see into the future; Let's Get Connected hosted by AT&T is a game show in which television, telephone and personal computers all come to life to explore the new connected world of broadband communications. Of course, General Motors is there with their Future Cars including a prototype of a car powered by a fuel cell and an all-Electric Vehicle. The House of Innoventions presented by Panja has a refrigerator that's connected by Internet to your grocery store and shops for you ... and a robotic dog that you program instead of train.


There is Medicine's New Vision that showed us how medicine has moved from flat x-rays to three-dimensional imaging; the Ultimate Home Theater Experience presented by Lutron had a 16-seat home theater where we saw movies like we have never experienced before.
We could go on and on about what was there and that should tell you that you can spend your whole visit to EPCOT just in these Innoventions buildings!


WORLD SHOWCASE ....


However, the best is yet to come. The Epcot World Showcase has always been a favorite of ours. To be able to visit all the countries that have pavilions and see, hear, smell, taste and talk with the young people who are from that area ... that is always special. The brand new Millennium Village captured our hearts. Many countries are represented in the village, each with a unique story to tell. 
'With the international cultures of World Showcase and the technological attractions of Future World, Epcot is the natural setting for an event that draws together all humankind in a celebration of what lies ahead,' Weiss said. 'As we move toward the new millennium, Epcot highlights those things which make our cultures unique and those things that bind humanity.'

MILLENNIUM VILLAGE....


The official opening of the village was heralded by a very special lady, world famous poet, Dr. Maya Angelou who vividly proclaimed through her poetry that 'We are more alike my friends than we are unalike'.
 

....."Some of us are serious.   Some thrive on comedy

Some declare their lives are lived as true profundity

While others claim 'NO' they're living the real reality

We are more alike my friends, than we are unalike"

 

"The variety of our skin tones can confuse, bemuse, delight

We are brown and pink and beige and purple. We are tan and blue and white

I've sailed upon the seven seas and stopped in every land

I've seen the wonders of the world, but not yet one common man

We are more alike my friends, than we are unalike."

 

"I know ten thousand women called Jane or Mary Jane

But I've not seen any two who really were the same.

Mirrored twins are different, although their features jibe

And lover's think quite different thoughts while lying side by side.

We are more alike my friends, than we are unalike."

 

"We love and lose in China.  We weep on England's Lords.

We laugh and moan in Guinea.  We thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Egypt.  We are born and we die in Maine

In minor ways we're different ... In major ways the same."

 

"We seek success in Kobi.  We seek success in Arkansas.

In minor ways we differ but in major ways the same

I note the obvious differences between each sort and type

But we are more alike my friends than we are unalike ....

We are more alike my friends than we are unalike."

"The variety of our skin tones can confuse, bemuse, delight

We are brown and pink and beige and purple. We are tan and blue and white

I've sailed upon the seven seas and stopped in every land

I've seen the wonders of the world, but not yet one common man

We are more alike my friends, than we are unalike."


After the ribbon cutting we moved on to see this global village where countries and cultures come together in a world without borders.

Experience Brazil offers a glimpse of the Amazon Rain Forest; Chile gives us a re-creation of the massive stone carvings of Easter Island, called the Moai of Peace and shows an ingenious way to harvest the fog; a traditional coffee ceremony introduces you to Eritrea, an ancient nation in East Africa; a lane paved with real Jerusalem stones creates the entrance to the Israel exhibit; Saudi Arabia offers a virtual tour with ambassadors and storytellers telling tales of a kingdom that is both modern and traditional; Scotland shows off a clever layout of miniature golf holes that help you learn about Scottish inventions, with their virtual tour 'hosted' by poet Robert Burns; and Sweden boasts four giant 'eggs' each representing a different season in Sweden that guest walk through to experience spring, summer, fall and winter in this beautiful country.

We were fortunate enough to see her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria, the princess of Sweden when she was touring the village and her countries exhibit. We can tell you she is really a beautiful and charming young lady!


In The Village Green, you can take part in a game, with the help of a conveyor belt, a basketball hoop and a bicycle .... follow a product from seed to growth, harvest, use, mulching and fertilization to understand the cycle of 'renewability'. We saw crayons made from soy and fabrics made from corn.

But what really captured our imagination ... and our stomachs .. was the Millennium Village café, called The Gift of Cuisine. It boasts eight regional kitchens featuring special recipes and dishes typical of many countries of the world, from the tastes of the Orient to spicy Africa, from favorites of Latin America to Europe's continental cuisine.


Live entertainment is also on hand. At the World ShowPlace, there will be 8 to 9 performances a day throughout the 15-month-long Millennium Celebration, with artists staying for one to two weeks. The 200-seat theater showcases performers from around the globe, including the famous puppets from Denmark's Tivoli Gardens.


Artisans from seven countries ... Lebanon, Peru, Thailand, Egypt, Greece, Korea and Venezuela ... create their masterpieces while we, as guests, watch. They share stories about their homelands and offer their work for sale. We could not resist some of the fascinating objects and did purchase several. The ones loved best by our children were small aucarinas, a musical instrument, that was beautifully hand-painted right in front of our eyes.

 
The last stop in this remarkable village is the Gifts to the World Game that tested us on our knowledge of the experiences in Millennium Village. The last question posed to us made us do some soul-searching ... 'What is your gift to the world?

'TAPESTRY OF NATIONS....

It is hard to believe, but there is still more to amaze at this Millennium Celebration. The new spellbinding and spiritual Tapestry of Nations parade is one like never before. Fifteen massive, rolling percussion units ... 120 towering puppets ... 720 drums and 150 live performers ... 19 giant torch towers ... fountains of fires and a symphonic score ... all combine for this phenomenal parade at Epcot twice every evening.


Gary Paben, creator, writer and director of this parade stated, 'The size and scope of the pageantry will dazzle, amuse and mystify as puppetry, masks, costumes and moving tableaus give this millennium spectacular a signature all its own.' 

The celebration's giant puppets, towering nearly 20 feet in the air, are a collection of 120 designs in eight basic styles. Engineered to move effortlessly with the breeze, the puppets were designed by noted artist Michael Curry, whose work includes award-winning creations for 'The Lion King' on Broadway.

We have seen many parades ... outstanding parades at Disney and other sites around the globe but we have never, ever seen anything to compare with this one. We were completely taken in by the rhythmic spirit of the orchestral arrangement, the symbolization of the indomitable human spirit, the magnificence of these articulated figures in their flapping wings, vivid geometrics and colorful panels .... all moving so gracefully along the World Showcase Promenade. It is one you will not want to miss.


ILLUMINATIONS 2000: REFLECTIONS OF EARTH....


Following this Tapestry of Nations parade is the newest performance of IllumiNations. This one, IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth. Created by show director, Don Dorsey, is the grand finale of each day through Jan 1, 2001. 


'My goal was to remind people that our home planet is an amazing place, especially during one of the most unique celebrations in history,' said Dorsey. 'This show weaves the story of our planet, using mystical elements that signify unity and peace for all humankind.'


The 13-minute show requires 67 computers in 40 locations, hundreds of special lighting fixtures, four fountain barges pumping 5,000 gallons per minute, a 150,000-pound inferno barge with 37 nozzles shooting propane flames into the air, and lasers delivering a kaleidoscope of colors. Some 2,800 shells are exploded during the nightly display ... more than twice the number used in previous productions. The dramatically spinning Earth Globe, a 28-foot diameter sphere, becomes a three-story video screen projecting vivid pictorial images that celebrate both human diversity and the unified spirit of humankind.

 
FASTPASS....

WOW! What a perfect ending to a simply magnificent, uplifting time at this world within a world. But we have more exciting news. One of the biggest hassles at Disney has finally been remedied. We all love to spend time at the parks, but waiting on those long, long lines has been a deterrent to many. Disney has now created ... FASTPASS!!! It is their new way to keep you from waiting. When you get to an attraction you have two choices. You may get on the line that is there ... if it is short, this is the route to take. If the line is long you can try FASTPASS .. To help you decide there is a digital clock that tells you the regular wait time and the return time for FASTPASS. You merely insert your theme park ticket into a FASTPASS turnstile at the attraction. Out comes the free FASTPASS ticket, telling you what time to return to the attraction. In the meantime, you can enjoy other attractions in the park. At your appointed time, you return to the attraction, head for the FASTPASS entrance and proceed to the pre-show or boarding area with little or no wait.


No long waits, outstanding, exciting, fun-filled, informative new exhibits, rides and shows for all ages .... geared to welcoming in the new millennium. What better place to take the family than a visit to Disney. We had a fabulous time and know you will return as enthused as we are.


See you at Spaceship Earth 2000!

 

FAST FACTS.....

Dates:

  • Oct. 1, 1999 - Jan. 1, 2001

Location:

  • Main area will be at Epcot

Theme: 

  • 'Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand'

Icon: 

  • Mickey's gloved hand raises a 116-foot-tall, star-topped wand which supports a glittering "2000" atop Spaceship Earth.

Other Highlights: 

  • Millennium Village ... in World showcase .. Representatives from more than 50 countries participating.

  • Innoventions ... in Future World ... Companies show off their newest and latest in technology.

  • Leave a Legacy ... in Future World ... 30 sculptured granite monoliths hold images of guests etched on metallic tiles.

  • Trading Pins ... Limited-edition Walt Disney World Millennium Celebration collectible pins sold and traded.

Entertainment:

  •  'Tapestry of Nations' ... Twice nightly pageant at Epcot 120 puppets, 30 drummers aboard 15 rolling percussion stages and 720 total drums.

  • 'IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth' ... A nighttime spectacular at World Showcase Lagoon ... Earth Globe is the world's first spherical video display system, wrapped in 15,000 LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes)

FASTPASS: 

  • No more waiting on long lines

 

Information:

  • Local travel agent

  • Call: 407/W-Disney

  • Call Guest Information: 407-824-4321

  • Website: www.disneyworld.com

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