A monthly trip back in time to Walt Disney World - From pre-opening to 25 years ago; your four retro hosts discuss now closed, but not forgotten attractions, designs, architecture and more! Come experience the Vacation Kingdom of the World...the way it was...and the way it is in your memories!
88 - Back to the Future: The Ride
For Episode 88, we are ready to Ride the Movies! Universal Studios in the late 80s brought their A-Game to central Florida and Back to the Future: The Ride was one of their top attractions. For this episode, we solely focus on Back to the Future and go from start to finish, from development to closing. How is our lead this month and for all of us having experienced this, the movie quotes are plentiful and the ride experiences come from all directions.We initially get into why this ride came to be and how it was somewhat of a mess to start. The entire ride system was pretty groundbreaking for the time, really capturing all of us as parkgoers. Before you get too far into this though, if you have not seen Back to the Future, we recommend you pause the episode and check it out.
We go through the entire facility, the pre-show, and even the ride mechanics. The neat part about this ride is many people have documented it over the years, including the BTTF Bluray’s that include the ride in a somewhat remastered format. The ride was so timeless in that you really felt as though you were stepping into the movies which we all know and loved. As How guides us through the spacetime continuum, we are given tons of descriptive visuals and walkthroughs about the entire ride. For reference, we touch on the Back to the Future Visual Guide, which has a full history on this ride as well.
As we wrap up this episode, let us know your thoughts on the ‘Good Neighbors’ episodes and if you would like us to branch out more often. While this won’t be done regularly, we are always interested in the history of Central Florida and all the fun tourist spots in the area. Thanks so much for listening!
87.5 - An Interview with Mr. Christmas Jim Heffelfinger
This mini-episode is a compliment to our 2022 holiday episode. We promised we'd eventually track down the fellow responsible for bringing the Lights of Winter to EPCOT Center. Brian and Todd talk to Jim Heffelfinger whose 20 year career with Walt Disney World began as stage manager at the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review at Pioneer Hall (where he met and shares a great story about our friend Billy Flanigan).
Over the next two decades he worked with Disney Legend Ron Logan and the rest of the entertainment team to bring Christmas as we know it to EPCOT, Fantasmic to Florida, the Muppets to Hollywood Boulevard, the holidays and a parade to Animal Kingdom and the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights to Disney-MGM Studios.
Some of his shows, like Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage are still running today much as he designed them while others are very fondly remembered.
This is a fun interview where you’ll learn a lot and, of course, we ask him for memories of Ron Logan and Dick Nunis and invite him to a future RetroMagic event.
Jim Heffelfinger is an unsung hero of holidays in Walt Disney World and many beloved live shows. Enjoy the interview.
87 - Hungry for Hollywood
Welcome to Episode 87 of the RetroWDW Podcast: Hungry For Hollywood - 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 open the mailbag monthly and are ready to hear from you. Be sure to reach out with questions, stories, memories, and more. You never know if your letter will be read on a future episode: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our first letter is from Mike and he is curious about a particular stairway at Magic Kingdom. We need some experts out there to help Mike out with this stairway and what happened to it....
Amy is our next letter and she is a new listener, welcome! Amy gives us some great information about working at The Disney Institute and how she was able to take courses for free as an employee. Thanks for the fun stories Amy.
Another Amy, another letter. This Amy is talking about Episode 32 which was all about Universe of Energy. She gives us some information on the dinosaur song we spoke of, which can be heard here. Enjoy!
Sylvia is up next and she is curious as to what happened with the Cigar Store Indians from Magic Kingdom. We give some insight into those and where they might have ended up. She also wanted to know where this photo was taken... Thanks for your letter Sylvia!
Emily is the next note we received, she was showing off her Dreamfinder Watch, which you can still get for yourself or as a gift. Visit our LBV History page for more information.
Paula wrote in with another vintage family photo taken on Main Street. We have been collecting these gems where you dress up and it looks old timey. Thanks Paula!
Finally, our last letter is from Donna and she speaks about the Room with a Skew and how her son loved playing in there. Donna is a former Gold Key Member along with Todd and she has some fighting words for Brian, which leads to a little history about The Pretzel Belt. Who knew?
Buckle up because we are going back to Hollywood, well the way it was in your memories, but never was. Brian is leading us through the early years of food and drink at the Disney-MGM Studios. One of the last great theme parks on Disney property and one that always has fascinating stories coming to us about the opening days and how things were drastically different when compared to now. We get to go through the different eateries that existed in the early years, including the Hollywood Brown Derby. How as very disappointed that it wasn't in the shape of a derby hat. We also discuss the Echo Lake restaurants, highlighting that the Fifties Primetime Cafe and the Hollywood and Vine cafeteria share a kitchen. The team discussed the unique dining experience offered at these restaurants and the challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our handy Birnbaum's guide is utilized throughout the episode, as is our good friend Reimund Pitz, who you may remember joined us during RetroMagic 50. Take a trip with us and Reimund around the Disney-MGM Studios, discussing each restaurant and how each menu has been changed over the years. We lost a ton of great options over the years and we even get a little history along the way about why some of these changes have happened. We hope you enjoy!
We are so glad so many of you could make it to our most recent event all about EPCOT Center and the 40 year anniversary. The videos from the event will be posted to our YouTube channel soon, but please take a minute to listen/watch our live recap we did a few weeks ago. Enjoy! Click Here To View
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86 - RetroMagic Retrospective
85 - Mickey Mouse Revue
We take you back to an attraction and for our fans that wanted us to go way back, we are going way back. The Mickey Mouse Revue which opened October 1, 1971 last about nine years closing in the fall of 1980. How is leading us this month which only means one thing: we are going super deep into this topic. He begins by going over the homophone of Revue vs. Review and also how little is out there on the Mickey Mouse Revue. This attraction was located where the current Mickey’s PhilharMagic is playing each day, so you can get a feeling as to how this played and where it was in the 70s. Throughout this episode, we walk you through the history and how the show plays out from start to finish. We recommend you watch the following video, just so you can get a visual of this attraction. How also gets us into how the attraction felt, which I appreciated very much because many of us have not seen this one in person. The voice of Mickey is discussed from this episode and it is not one of the better versions… This quirky and unique show has lots of small details and stories that really make it unique. As we dig into the history of this one you are really going to be blown away as to how this whole thing played out. Finally, we get into what happened after the doors closed in 1980 and where the entire thing ended up, with some recent updates! We hope you enjoy this look back at this unique attraction.
84.5 - DVC Feedback
So our last episode, Episode 84: Disney Vacation Club, we dug into the history of the vacation club and the original resort. Throughout this episode, we were able to discuss our personal experiences with DVC and also our opinions. While going over all of the details in Episode 84, we asked for your feedback and your own opinions on DVC. You as the listeners did not disappoint! We had an amazing response and received tons of great messages. Throughout episode 84.5, we dig into all of these messages. As we state at the start of the episodes, we received numerous emails with varying levels of detail. All of us especially liked the amount of detail in some of these that broke down facts, figures, and even the needs of your family. While these slowly trickled in over the month, we felt the need to bring them all to a ‘mini-episode’ which ends up running just about two hours. If you are a DVC member, a prospective member, someone who rents points, or even a WDW vacationer who has no interest in DVC, this episode will speak to all of you. We thank all of our listeners who decided to write in and give us their experiences, you made this episode possible. Join us next time as we get back into the theme parks and bring you another episode real soon!
The Gold Standard for WDW History Pods
These guys set the bar. The monthly episodes are insightful and funny and most importantly never boring. The hosts have been together a long time and it shows in their banter during the podcast. I love when they go off on tangents unrelated to the topic at hand only to bring it back full circle.
They do the research and you can’t help but like them and their fun episodes.
With my first visit to WDW being 1975 this podcast takes me back to a simpler time. The best historical stories. And deep dives into what Disney is today.
While the majority of the episodes I’ve listened to discuss WDW before I ever visited, I love hearing about the resort’s past. I also appreciate the team’s sense of humor. I still chuckle thinking about the discussion of how fast CoP spins and what the long term effects of repeated centripetal force would have on the internal organs of our favorite house guest, Uncle Orville. 😂