The 1990s were a time of great productivity and success for the Walt Disney Company. While many noteworthy things happened throughout the Florida Project during the last decade of the 20th Century, it is perhaps some of the small things that are the most fun to recall. If you visited Walt Disney World in the ’90s, see how many of these quirky, retro experiences from days gone by that you remember as we consider: “You may have been a ’90s Walt Disney World fan if…”
…you can finish this jingle lyric, “It’s the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Tip…”
A staple of ’90s Walt Disney World Resort TV, the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Tip for Today was a short jingle that was interspersed throughout the WDW Resort Tour TV loop and was followed by an onscreen text tip such as “Disney Transportation is Complimentary” or “Foreign Language Guides and Guides for Guests with Disabilities are Available at Guest Relations in the Theme Parks and Your Hotel.”
…you have a leather bracelet from Frontierland with your name engraved on it.
While engraved leather items can still be found in Frontierland today, these bracelets were very popular in the ’90s. A Cast Member could be found sitting on the porch outside the Frontier Trading Post with a number of various colored, braided leather bracelets that could be engraved with the name of the guest’s choosing as well as embellished with a small pin.
…your treat of choice from the ice cream carts was a foot-long, yellow, twisted, original Itzakadoozie.
Nestle’s Itzakadoozie was not exclusive to Disney Parks, but it was definitely a favorite among kids enduring the hot Florida sun. This almost foot-long popsicle was a twisty yellow treat made with mango, pineapple, passion fruit, and peach flavors. The original Itzakadoozie has since been replaced by a popsicle bearing the same name but flavored with wild berry and lemon in a typical popsicle shape.
…the annual Walt Disney World Happy Easter Parade special was event TV for your family.
While the Walt Disney World Happy Easter Parade made its television debut in 1985, the 1990s is the only decade to feature an Easter parade telecast each of the ten years. The majority of the specials were hosted by Joan Lunden and Regis Philbin, with other hosts making single-year appearances. The parade itself was known for including Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny, the Azalea Trail Maids, and performers dressed in turn-of-the-century attire.
…you couldn’t walk through the Innoventions breezeway without begging your parents for a Balzac.
As guests walked through the Innoventions East corridor, they would find a merchant with a cart covered in Balzac Balloon Balls. These balls consisted of a fabric form that a deflated spherical balloon would be inserted into and then inflated, creating what was essentially a more durable balloon that could be played with indoors, outdoors, or even in the pool. They came in sizes ranging from just a few inches in diameter up to two or three feet.
…you dropped all 13 floors at once on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
When the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror welcomed its first guests in 1994, there was not a series of randomized drops like today. Instead, guests were taken all the way to the top and dropped all 13 floors at speeds faster than the pull of gravity. This made for a much more intense, albeit shorter, experience.
…you have a satin princess hat that was purchased in The King’s Gallery in Cinderella Castle.
The King’s Gallery was a merchandise location that could be found in the Cinderella Castle corridor where the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is currently. Open from 1972-2004, it sold a number of medieval-themed items such as swords and family crests as well as jewelry, imported European gifts, and glass pieces, but for little girls in the ’90s, this was the princess hat store!
…you watched a Disney Renaissance film in parade form.
Today, Disney’s animated films are given single units within a larger parade, but in the ’90s Aladdin, Hercules and Mulan each had their own dedicated afternoon parade in Disney MGM Studios. These full-length productions featured a number of elaborate floats and performers including the very memorable 30+ foot tall inflated Genie in Aladdin’s Royal Caravan.
…you rooted for Goofy and his robo-dino friend, King, at Galaxy Search.
Galaxy Search was a stage show that took place in Tomorrowland at the former Galaxy Palace Theater. This space age talent show featured the Fab Five and friends competing alongside alien acts. The show’s final competitors proved to be the most memorable as Goofy took the stage with his giant Elvis-impersonating, dino-robo-alien named King.
…these toiletries made you so neat and pretty that you could get on with the show.
Before the days of Disney’s partnership with H2O+, the resort room toiletries were not name brand, but they were lovely nonetheless. Each bar of soap, bottle of shampoo, shower cap, and sewing kit featured the classic pie-eyed Mickey Mouse on the front and the 1955 Mickey Mouse Club quote “Everybody neat and pretty? Then on with the show!” on the back.
…you met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
One of the hottest TV and toy properties in the early ’90s was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and from 1990-1995 in Disney MGM Studios, the Turtles’ Party Wagon would roll onto New York Street. There, the four turtles and reporter April O’Neil would perform on an elevated stage. Guests could also take their picture at a photo backdrop or meet their favorite turtle throughout the day.
…you thought you might get to see Uncle Jesse singing in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
In May 1993, the sitcom Full House visited Walt Disney World. While much of the two-part special is quite unbelievable, in one scene John Stamos’ Uncle Jesse sits down to play the grand piano in the Grand Floridian lobby, thus treating a number of actual guests to a very memorable moment. Full House was not alone in taking a trip to the “Most Magical Place on Earth”. During the ’90s, Family Matters, Step By Step, Boy Meets World, Roseanne, and Sabrina all shot on location at Walt Disney World.
…you couldn’t get that Mickey Mania song out of your head.
Mickey Mania was a daytime Magic Kingdom parade designed to celebrate the main mouse himself, while also being one of the most ’90s things to ever happen in a Disney theme park. Running from 1994-1996, this parade featured roller-bladers, bikers, skateboarders, Disney Afternoon characters, a number of truly wild Mickey-themed costumes, and a rapping announcer with quotes like “My main man, Mickey Mouse is bustin’ fresh outasite.”
…on your visit to Epcot, you thought you might run into the girl who thought Illuminations was “brilliant.”
On every Walt Disney World Vacation Planner VHS tape issued from 1993-99 there was a young woman praising the Epcot nighttime spectacular, IllumiNations. Clearly, based on her identical attire in each video, Disney must have interviewed her one time in the early ’90s and proceeded to cut slightly differing quotes for each video re-issue. But without fail, in each and every one she calls the long-running show “brilliant”, which of course, it was.
…you think trumpet fanfare should be followed by “On this magic night…”
SpectroMagic was a beloved Magic Kingdom nighttime parade. It debuted in 1991 and ran until 1999, and while it did make a return during the 2000s, it will forever be identified with ’90s Walt Disney World. Its iconic opening fanfare trumpet blasts are still immediately recognizable 30 years after its debut.
…you could not wait to visit Epcot just so you could see Barbie.
In the mid-’90s Barbie and her friends Skipper, Stacie, Ken, and others could be found at the America Gardens Theater in Epcot. During the Magical World of Barbie show, Barbie traveled to locales around the world like the Australian outback, a Paris fashion show, and Africa for a safari. Barbie was also available for Meet & Greets.
…you can finish this line, “Call 1-407-W-DISNEY and make….”
Without widespread internet availability in the ’90s, resort reservations were made via phone. The phone number 1-407-W-DISNEY was imposed over the closing image of every Walt Disney World television commercial and was accompanied by a woman’s voice saying, “Call 1-407-W-DISNEY and make the dream come true.”
…you visited Disney’s Old Key West Resort when it was known as the Disney’s Vacation Club Resort.
The very first DVC property opened in late 1991 and was known simply as Disney’s Vacation Club Resort until 1996 when it was renamed to differentiate it from Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney’s Hilton Head Island.
…you loved or hated the castle cake.
Few moments in the annals of Magic Kingdom history invoke as intense of opinions as the 25th Anniversary Cinderella Castle Cake. Painted pink and festooned with inflated gumdrops, hard candy rings, puffy white icing, a large candy “25,” and candles in place of turrets, Cinderella Castle was nearly unidentifiable. While some loved the fantasy of the castle confection, others saw it as an abomination.
- Zip-a-dee-doo-dah tip screenshot, Easter Parade screenshot, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror photo, Vacation Planner screenshot, and commercial screenshot copyright Disney.
- “Neat and Pretty” toiletry photo from the personal collection of Shannon King.
- Lead image, leather bracelet photo, princess hat photo, Genie float photo, Galaxy Search’s King photo, Ninja Turtle photo, Barbie photo, and 25th Castle Cake photo from the author’s personal collection.