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WDW Radio # 694 – Listener Email: Imagineering Ideas, Halloween Overlays, Special Experiences, and Hidden Pathways in Walt Disney World

I open up the email inbox this weekend and answer more of your questions about Imagineering our own Halloween overlays, ideas for a 5th park in Walt Disney World, special experiences in Disneyland, the super secret pathway in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and more!

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Thanks to Beci Mahnken from Mouse Fan Travel for joining me again this week!

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Click Here To Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

Lou Mongello: [00:00:00] In my continuing efforts going back 18 plus years to 2004, if I have math right? I have always wanted to help enhance your enjoyment and appreciation of the Disney parks and your experiences when you go. And so I'm going to turn to you. And someone else again this week to help with planning history, tips, hopefully some dining and some more.

And like Radio Shack in the 1990s. You've got questions, we've got answers. And joining me once again is someone who very much understands that antiquated reference. She is, of course, Becky Mackin, the CEO and head magic maker over at Mei and Mouse fan.

Beci Mahnken: Hi, Lou. I, I've never heard anything like that Radio Shack thing ever before, but No, I knew exactly what you're talking about.

Lou Mongello: I'm feel better, I'm sure that I've used, I'm sure I've used the Radio Shack reference before, which just goes to show how old you and I both are. Yeah. But listen, we will go from that relatively obscure reference to one that I think hopefully will not only answer the question of the person who asked it, but uh, will be.

Relatable and important. And if anything else, maybe a little bit of fun

Beci Mahnken: for in, in other words, we're gonna try to make a dent in that huge email

Lou Mongello: bin that you have going. We are Becky. I say it every time we do this this time. I mean it this time I'm gonna do like super fast lightning. I'm gonna try, I'm even maybe not gonna read cuz sometimes the emails are long.

I'm gonna like, I'll. You know, cause I'm reading them, I'm, I'm reading these on the fly, like, I'm literally opening up the inbox, like I'm opening up the letters and just reading them. God help us and save us. Cuz you never know what you're gonna get. Um, I'll, sometimes I'll see a word in there that I'll pick up, but, uh, we'll try and, and go as quickly as, So you're scrolling, you're

Beci Mahnken: basically scroll email scrolling.

Lou Mongello: Okay. I'm scroll. Good to know. And, and the first one I picked out, I literally picked out [00:02:00] because I saw one word and hopefully it is as timely as it seems. This is from Marcano who says, First of all, thank you for all that you do and for. Such a wonderful friend to all of us. Lou. Thank you Marcy. I know I'm happy to meet your friend and will continue to tune into your broadcast for as long as I have access to them.

My girlfriend and I are are working up money for her first ever trip to Disney World. She's never been to California or Florida, and I think it would be cool if we got to meet up with you. Marcano will definitely try and make it happen. However, I had a few questions, but here. Oh, so, okay. So we've got a few questions.

Um, I'm gonna answer the one that I think is most timely and appropriate to the show, He said, So we have the haunted maned holiday overlay in California, and we've had Space Mountain, Ghost Galaxy as well. Are there any other spooky, eerie, creepy overlays that you think would be interesting to see done in a similar way?

Oh, I love this. Would you want them to be done in a temporary fashion or maybe considered more of a permanent overhaul? I'll ask Stitches. Great Escape or Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout. If you count those as overlays in any fashion, I'll not divulge what my mind came up with. Other than saying it went into the terrifying realm of dropping a bear in the big blue house overlay on top of tower or terror, and leave it at that.

I, I'm going to try and get that vision out of my mine's eye because I love tower terror and I have a very heartfelt, sentimental spot for bear in the big blue house and the goodbye song and the moon, but I digress. Becky, this is a cool question. So any kind of overlays, right? We know we just came back from Disneyland.

We love, we really love The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay, which really transforms hearted mansion what I think is a completely new attraction. And as somebody who loves Halloween, Love Christmas, love Tim Burton. But I can't sort of wrap my heart around Nightmare before Christmas. I still love that overlay there.

Are there any other spooky or eerie or creepy overlays you think would be [00:04:00] done that could be done in a similar way?

Beci Mahnken: Oh, there's so many possibilities. I mean, look what they did in California with Guardians of the Galaxy, right? So they even just do a kind of. Creepier, fun version of that. But the, as you were reading it, the first thing that came to my mind, and don't ask me why, maybe this is something for my childhood, but if you did like, um, an overlay of the creepy driving through the creepy woods in utopia.

Don't ask me why that came to mind. I just like you have, you have Chucky running behind one of the cars?

Lou Mongello: Um, it's like wrong turn meets the tomorrow Land Speedway. Yes.

Beci Mahnken: Don't ask me why. The other thing that would be kind of cool is if they could do some sort of overlay on the train so that you would go from scene to scene to scene of, of different creepy.

You know, weird, um, uh, locations via the train. I think those are the two that came to mind the quickest.

Lou Mongello: So I love this question and I'm gonna post this in the clubhouse cause I really think it deserves and, and needs some additional thought put into it, right? Cause we are sort of doing this on the fly.

And look again, I love Halloween. I love scary movies. Like I love this time of. So

Beci Mahnken: Derek and twisty, this is my month, right? Just,

Lou Mongello: just saying it. It's your year. But anyway,

Beci Mahnken: wait, before you go down that path. Wait, one more. One more thing. How about if you turned it's a small world into a whole bunch of creepy dolls that

Lou Mongello: come to life?

I think some people would say that's kind of already what it is. What . My fair enough. First thought was instead of just limiting ourselves to an attraction, what if you could almost do it to a land? Like what if there was a way to make Liberty Square, like Sleepy Hollow, like very sort of um, uh, period.

Not scary, like, not like a Halloween horror type of thing, but like a period like themed overlay of what Halloween would be like in colonial [00:06:00] times and sort of a, a fun, scary, But then what if you did this? What if you got instead of that? Cuz that's a ridiculous idea. What if instead of you did this, What if there was a way that you can convert Tom Sewer Island into some sort of a Halloween themed land in and of itself.

So as you cross over on the, um, on the, on the, the boat and it's like crossing the river sticks, right? And you go to this, this sort of new completely themed land. Again, in the dark. It would be super cool. Creepy but not scary because again, we're in Walt Disney World. You sort of have that entire island to play with, and I think you could do some really, really cool things

Beci Mahnken: that could be interesting.

That's for sure. Huh. I, So basically we need to take over a wall Disney World at one during October and just do overlays on everything that . I would like that personally. I think it'd be pretty cool if they could

Lou Mongello: do it, but, but you could talk me if you could sort of do it to an, to a, a, a larger space and sort of theme that entire space to something.

Again, not, I'm not talking, you know, blood and gore type. Scary, but creepy, scary.

Beci Mahnken: Mentally scary where it's more of a, a mental freak out than it is gory because nobody wants that. Really.

Lou Mongello: Um, unrelated with somewhat related question, best scary movie ever. The ring. Wow. Interesting.

Beci Mahnken: Yeah. The ring still freaks me out.

It just some of those visuals of, of that chi coming through the TV and the antiquated motion, just so weird.

Lou Mongello: Interesting. Interesting. Yeah. I don't know if I, why I would, I'm not sure. I thought why would, that would be the one you would choose? Huh? Okay. Wait a minute. What did you think I was going to choose?

I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure. Because I always like the, I always, I always felt, especially growing up, like the ones that were scariest were the ones that like could really happen. Right. The am horror, The [00:08:00] Exorcist. Yeah. You know, I had a cousin, I still have a cousin named Damien, so the Oman freaked me. The freak out.

Oh yeah. Like I would literally, like as he was sleeping, like I'd be like combining through his hair looking for the little like numbers and whatever. I had a weird travel. Wow. , I'll put that question in, in the clubhouse to. Favorite Scary cuz it's different. Favorite, scary movie is different, I think, than favorite Halloween movie.

So, alright, so yeah. But what, Wait

Beci Mahnken: a minute, what's yours? You, you have to say what yours.

Lou Mongello: I'm gonna give you the lawyer answer cuz there's, Cuz there's a lot like a miniville Horror as a kid really scared me. Yeah. Because I grew up in a big old Victorian house and you know, sometimes when you're alone at night, the house starts making all kinds of noises and.

Beci Mahnken: Yeah, I thought that there would be something with clowns because I know how much you hate clowns, so there's got to be a movie some, Was it Poltergeist?

Lou Mongello: Poltergeist freaked me out too. I mean, in a good Poltergeist

Beci Mahnken: did freak me

Lou Mongello: out and I, although I do love it, I think it is one of Stephen King's greatest books.

I think it's even the, the, the, the. The TV made for TV adaptation is so good because Tim Gury, as Penny Wise is so good. Remember when we used to do a podcast about Disney World? Okay, go . I'll save this for a Wednesday night. This is actually conversation next Wednesday Night Live. We're gonna talk about, uh, Halloween and Scary.

Beci Mahnken: Jas Jos was scary

Lou Mongello: too. Jaws

Beci Mahnken: is, is. I stopped swimming after jaws, and I was, I was actually a competitive swimmer at the time, and I stopped swimming. I'm a

Lou Mongello: competitive floater. I, I just, I float competitive. I could make an argument that Jaws is possibly one of, if not the greatest cinematic, mis masterpieces of our time.

Beci Mahnken: Yes. And I and I, I still cruise and I still go out on boats. I don't, I don't swim and done swim

Lou Mongello: cause he can Okay. Note to self, the ring and water. Just let me circle these and file those away for later. All right. Very quickly, any last thoughts about overlays for Walt Disney World or Disneyland? I

Beci Mahnken: love them.

I, I know that some people [00:10:00] have some, you know, pretty passionate feelings about when they change something like that. And it does take time. It takes, um, you know, Disney Lands Haunted Mansion out for several weeks, both to set it up and then to have it on stage and then to tear it down, which is one of the reasons why you can't really do that in Disney World.

But I wish they would come up. Couple of more of those types of, you know, that takes me back to, um, Hong

Lou Mongello: Kong, Hong Kong. I, I, I knew one of us. I just, all of a

Beci Mahnken: sudden I just remembered that that was so eerie, creepy. It wasn't scary per se, but it was so,

Lou Mongello: Noia was scary. Creepy. Penia

Beci Mahnken: was scary. Yeah. Okay. Penia was scared not there for you, One of your, you know, fellow people.

But I will say that is still in my mind, one of the best things Disney has ever done for h.

Lou Mongello: Yeah, I don't know that it would necessarily play the same way state side, but that walkthrough, and forgive me that I don't remember offhand what it was called. We talked about it on our China b d review. We have to go back by the way.

Um, Yeah. Is, is really, really well done. And they turned the, sort of, the scare meter up to 11 like that, um, uh, the Pinocchio and the, the Allison Wonderland scene was legitimately true. Trippy. Yeah. Legitimately scary. So yeah, I loved it. , but I think this is a great question for you Yeah. Listener to, uh, to chime in to think about a little.

What sort of scary or creepy or eerie overlays do you think would be interesting to be done to? World or land? Okay. I remember I said we were gonna go fast. That's clearly at the winner. We've got one more question to do and we're done. Um, . Greg says, Lou, thank you for what you're doing for sharing your passion for Disney and humanity.

Not that it would be necessary, but as there ever been a discussion or an idea about creating and adding. And I think this ti is timely too, having come off just 20 D, 23 about adding a fifth Park to Walt Disney World. If not, do [00:12:00] you believe a Fifth Park would work? And what sort of story would you want this addition to tell?

Again, that's for Greg. You know, Becky, this is the conversation that comes up every year. I think it comes up even more so as things like D 23 approaches, and the questions start to come in. Is this the year that we get the announcement of the fifth gate? I think it is something that may even be on the blue sky drawing boards, because they do think those out, you know, a decade in advance.

Mm. But because it is such a massive undertaking, not just a fiscal undertaking in terms of, of the money, but just from a planning and site planning to get this, remember a lot of this area around here is still, you know, completely undeveloped. And to get the infrastructure, um, in is, is a, is a huge, huge investment.

I think it's going to happen in time. I think it almost has to happen because we see that, you know, Disney to a certain degree, especially here, has a supply and demand problem. There's way too much demand for the supply that that Disney has, not just of hotel rooms, but of theme park attractions as well.

So, I do think it is going to come. I think we're probably a ways away from it, but we always come back to this question like, what would be the theme of this fifth Park? I know villains comes up a lot and, and we, I think dizzy is wet. Our appetite with this idea of villains coming to that island behind Big Thunder Mountain.

That is what I expect to have happen, is it'll be. Primarily a villains only themed land that you sort of cross through this portal into this other dimension or this villains dimension, and that's sort of where you are. I don't know that a, a villains themed fifth gate would, would be attractive to enough people to warrant it.

But if you were sort of put in charge and given the budget, what would you imagine or want this fifth gate, this fifth theme park full of lands or whatever it is to be themed after Wow. [00:14:00]

Beci Mahnken: Yeah, we talk about this quite often every year, especially when we're off of D 23. You're so right in thinking about this, over the past, I don't know how many years that they've gone where we've known that these lands were coming into play, Right?

So cars land came into play. Um, a adventurous campus came into play, Galaxy's Edge, and they seemed to all warrant expansion. Right. So I'm almost wondering if one of those ips could become a fifth gate on its own, would it be expansive enough to be able to do that? Um, it seems like Marvel could pull off something like that if you did a, a full gate that was based on Marvel because it just seemingly keeps going and going and going.

Uh, the other thing that always, I've always wanted to see, Was like the, what was it called? The animal kingdom one that was supposed to be like the fantasy, the FD animals like unicorns and beastly kingdoms, Beastly kingdom. Thank you. Uh, I always thought that would be an amazing idea for an additional gada.

Again, I'm not sure if that could hold an entire. Uh, theme park, um, on its own. Maybe it could, I, I guess my brain, if I was gonna be logical about it, would still backpedal to those ips to like marvel or something that could hold up the test of time,

Lou Mongello: which brings up its own separate discussion. And for some people debate.

There are some that don't like the idea that if you look at recent history, Attractions and shows are based on current ip. They are taking things from the movies and TV shows, bringing them into the parks, which I think is, is sometimes you can debate because that's what Disneyland was based off of.

Right. Especially things like fantasy and land were built off of these ips. There's also this desire, I think too, [00:16:00] for original stories to be told in the parks. I think it's, it's some of. Disney's best work in the parks has been, will go within like a hundred mansion or pirate to the Caribbean.

Beci Mahnken: Yeah. What I do like though is I'm gonna take Adventure's Campus for an example.

Mm-hmm. it is, it is rather small. There's a lot to be told there, but how it's set up allows it to become current within a day. If there's something that shows on Disney Plus and that character appears, or it, I, I think that something could be said for how quickly they could keep it current and relevant.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. It's one of the things I, I love. Like you said, you watch a show on a Wednesday night and on Thursday morning that character is in the park. Cause I think it's, it's brilliant. I do think that you're onto something in terms of Marvel and I know I've been, hopefully Becky one of these years, I'm going to be right that I really do think that Universal, it's in everybody's best interest for Universal Studios to give up, trade, sell, whatever it is.

The rights that they have to the Marvel characters east of the Mississippi, because of the way they have to be portrayed in the parks. They are very, very dated. I think there's a, there's a disconnect between what you see in that park and what we see, especially young kids on screen. They would love to have that space back.

They'd love to probably not have to show their books to Disney every single year. But I digress. So if all those things as I, as I want as a Disney and Marvel fan, hope to have. If in time Disney's ready for the fifth Gate Universal, give up those rights, I think it makes perfect sense to have this Marvel themed fifth gate that, like you said, can be this living, breathing, expanding, and changing thing.

Yeah. That clearly there's enough interest in having.

Beci Mahnken: Yeah, and you could also add on like you've got with the Star Cruiser where you had, you got to go to an academy to learn to become a superhero or something where you stay there a couple of days, there's a lot of

Lou Mongello: opportunities. Stop. Next, stop. Oh my God, just stop it.

I love that [00:18:00] idea so much. . Wouldn't

Beci Mahnken: that be fun? And then, you know, meet your. You're superhero characters. It, it could just, could go on and on and on. But to go back with your, your universal thing, we've been talking about this for 10 years. Obviously it keeps coming up and coming up. Um, it's my understanding that that agreement kind of keeps universal in the comic book world.

They really can't expand out beyond that to what we currently know, which it, it's almost like, you know, guys. The comic books are great and everything, but maybe it is time for you to move on into something else. I'd love to see that agreement happen so that they could. Create a superhero academy where Luke can go learn how to be Spider-Man.

Lou Mongello: Uh, I've been practicing my entire life, and you're right, because look, when you go to Universal, and yes, I have gone to Universal many times and you, and you stand in sort of Marvel superhero island, you, you can, you know, play this over under game in terms of how many times you hear somebody, especially kids.

You know, a character comes out and they're like, Who is that? Or if you go into, I forget the name of the quick service restaurants, um, In that, in that land, not the Fantastic four one, the other, like the Captain America one. If you look around the walls and you see, and the, and on the ceiling, the comic book art from characters, I think you'd be hard pressed to identify maybe more than you know, five to seven of 'em, unless you're a huge comic book nerd because there's just.

Not ones that we've seen and certainly not ones that you've seen in that form. So, again, very long way of answering the, the question that I think we all, um, agree. But again, I'm gonna post this too. If you could design the fifth Gate and Walt Disney World, what would you theme it after? And I bet you wanna get some very, very interesting mm-hmm.

very creative. Maybe I'll have a, maybe I'll give away a prize. For the most new, unique and creative answer, and I'll post that in the clubhouse. Yeah. ww.com. That's great slash clubhouse. I will, [00:20:00] uh, I will post that in Right. Let's move on to Bill O'Neil's question he needs has a question with planning. Hey Lou, longtime listener.

Love the show. Been to Walt Disney World and Disneyland many, many times. I'm working on a large party reservation. I have 12 people going to Walt Disney World in February, 2023. We have serious dining priorities like space. I like when they call dining priorities serious, like, I'm not kidding, ello. This is serious stuff.

We have serious dining priorities like space two 20, Nice. California. Very nice ohana. It means family and a few others. Do you have any strategies for booking dining for larger parties? Has it helped to split the party? I appreciate any of your awesome wisdom. On these matters, Bill O'Neil. Becky, I think you can definitely help with this one because it's part of the magic that you make over at mouse van Travel.

Beci Mahnken: Yeah, it kind of is. And with groups, it, it's, it is interesting, um, the strategy, if you cannot get for the entire group, Is to split up into two groups. Just know that it's possible. You won't be sitting near each other and you might be a half an hour apart, so that's a possibility to do. Then obviously if you show up all at the same time, then they can somewhat accommodate it.

So you're, if you're. If you're calling and I do call in on, on big groups because they'll be able to help you a little bit better than trying to find little pieces online. So they may actually say, All right, I've got two groups of six that I can put together. I can't guarantee you'll be together. Take it, Take what they give you, and then when you get there on site, show up a little bit early and then.

Tell them about the situation that you got two parties and your six tops, um, at 15 minutes apart, and they'll do what they can to make sure that you're as close together as possible. A, a better strategy is to look at, and I really know that you wanna go to places like Space two 20, but. Those ones that, um, do have the smaller tables and, uh, don't accommodate groups as well.[00:22:00]

Try to look for those restaurants in those locations that are a little bit more group friendly. And the ones we usually look at are like Ohana, Whispering Canyon, Cafe Trails, and, um, 19 Park Fair Beer Garden. Obviously hoop to do would be a great one to do as a group, which you certainly can do. So sit down and really look at your options.

Try for what you can be prepared to split up, maybe be away from each other, different times possibly, but you'll have those experiences that, um, that you're looking for. And then if you can't get those, those larger tables, look at some of these other restaurants that do accommodate groups a little.

Lou Mongello: Great advice.

I only have three words to add onto that. Mm. The boathouse. That's it. It's just an excuse to get the boathouse in. But no, you can actually call the boathouse and tell 'em we have a large party cuz do have rooms in the back. And I know I've actually been at tables. Where they've had like 14 people.

Beci Mahnken: Yeah.

The ones at Disney Springs are very accommodating of larger groups, so I think they have a little bit more space to, to deal with that. And their demand may not be as high as you're seeing from the, some of the ones that you're talking about that are in park. Um, so you might have a little bit. Better, uh, success with those locations?

Lou Mongello: Yeah, some actually have like boathouse, um, and House of Blues, like they have rooms where they can put a larger party. Um, I was recently in a House of Blues where we had a table with like 16 people at it off in one of the side rooms, which is actually nice too because it almost feels semi-private. Um mm-hmm.

because they're able to, to put a big table out there. Um, moving on, Bobby Dempsey says, Hey Lou. My mom retired this year from her job as a third grade. Thank you to your mom and congratulations. I, I love and appreciate teachers who are the most underpaid, underappreciated people in the world. And who's third grade?

So Woo Motov . Um, and to celebrate, I wanna take her on a bucket list trip to Disneyland. You are a good son [00:24:00] since we live in New Jersey. This will most likely be a once in a lifetime trip for her. I was wondering, is there anything special I can try and book that's less than a VIP tour, but also memorable and cool.

And I was also wondering when the best time to visit Disneyland would be to take advantage of low crowds. Huh? Doesn't really exist anymore, but to have also have the least amount of rides down for maintenance or changing two or back from the holiday overlays. Great point. Maybe, maybe you could ask Becky for help on this one too.

Thanks for all your help and for everything you do. Bobby Dempsey, uh, Bobby, Great questions. Again, special experiences that maybe are not to the level and cost of a V I P tour guide, which can, can and are, be very pricey. When is the best time to take advantage of low crowds? And you're right, you also, especially for places like Disneyland that do do things like the holiday overlay.

You do need to be aware of things like when the haunted mansion might be down for an extended period of time. So, Becky, let's do first things first. What would you suggest in terms of something special he could do for his mom, uh, in Disneyland that maybe isn't up to the, the expense of a VIP tour?

Beci Mahnken: Yeah, there's several things you can do there, and I love the way that they brought several of their, like, uh, dessert offerings back where we were just there watching one of the, um, parades.

And they do have a dessert party option where you can sit at a table and be, you'll be in the front line of all of the, the, the parade action. And you're sitting there having desserts in a cocktail. So what could be better than that over in dca? Um, another thing that I always recommend to people who are big Disney fans that have kind of been there, done that on the rides, is look at some of the tours like the Walk in Walt's Footsteps tour, which will give you the history of how Disneyland was created and imagined.

And. Um, [00:26:00] executed by Walt himself, and you get to actually walk in his footsteps. So I, I think that's always really special for those who enjoy the history of the parks, um, if it's within in budget. I would also suggest staying at the Disneyland Hotel because that has its own little piece of magic, uh, assigned with the history around you and.

The rooms are magical and it just feels like you are in Disney when you're in that hotel. I really enjoy that as well. Um, they do have other types of dining packages that will allow you to have, um, viewing or, or dessert packages, like if you wanna see Fmic. Instead of standing in the crowds for two hours before the show trying to hold a spot, you can actually have desserts, um, as well.

So there's a lot of little special packages that don't cost a mint, but will make the experience a little bit more

Lou Mongello: magical. Yeah, and and I, and I love that and, and I think they call them, I think on both coasts now there, there's a lot of things that they have that are part of their enchanted extras.

Enchanting, yeah. Extras collection. These are sort of these little things. And what I like about Disneyland too, and they sort of lends itself to answering The other part of the question too is there are all these other. Special events that are going on. Look, I, I love going to Disneyland during the holidays, right?

It's, I think it's like you get a, a bonus sort of overlay on top of both of the parks and the resorts in terms of the Christmas and the holiday offerings. Um, But there are some additional things that you can do too. I love the tours, right? I'm with you. I love the behind the scenes tours, but if that's not, you know, something that you wanna do, we've done the dessert parties before we, we've absolutely love those.

But if you do go during some of. The holiday times, there are some additional things that you might be able to do. So, Becky, do they have, um, don't they have [00:28:00] packages for things like, uh, candlelight? Processional? So if you wanted to do a special seating for parades or, or professional, you're able to do that at Disneyland as well.

I want I,

Beci Mahnken: yes, . It's done a lot differently in Disneyland than it is in Disney World. Obviously Disney World has several weeks worth of candlelight, professional. Disneyland does it for one day. So, coming off of Pandemic, I don't know if they still offer them for this year. I'm gonna say yes with a question mark, but it's something that, um, that we should look into if it is

Lou Mongello: available.

Yeah. And so if you had to, all things being considered, if you had to pick like one weekend or one time of year that you personally could go to Disneyland, what would it be and why?

Beci Mahnken: You're asking me, I'm asking you . I hate that question because there's several there. There's all. Oh, I'll go to my number one.

My, my number one time of year to go is anytime the Christmas lights are up and the decorations, there's something just extra magical about being in Disney at Christmas, even if it's not Christmas itself. But once the decorations are up and the, um, the music changes and there's just something lighter and happier and more joyous about being there during the holiday season.

So, The special offerings, the special food. Give me gingerbread. Oh, by the way, side note, the gingerbread of Disneyland. Rocks. So sorry, Disney World. You need to like step up your game there because the Disneyland gingerbread is off the planet. And I, I needed more and I, I should have bought more and I didn't when I was there because the lines like are an hour long now.

Anyway, I digress. So yes, it's about the treats and it's about the food and it's about the decorations and just about the spirit. That's what I really enjoy [00:30:00] most a about, um, being.

Lou Mongello: All right. We'll do one more question and how about you?

Beci Mahnken: You gotta answer that question. You put me on the spot. Just, just throw it out there.

Lou Mongello: I do love Christmas time in, in. Both, uh, in the parks, in both coasts. Uh, I also, I have to tell you, having just come from Disneyland during D 20 Expo and having a little bit of time after Expo to be there, man, Disneyland does Halloween very into it. So well, well, it like between what they do on the Disneyland side and the Ogi Booky bash, like you, okay?

You wanna go during, if you're a Halloween or your mom's a Halloween, Ogie Boogie P was a lot of fun. Like I really, really had a nice time there, and that's not even, and we didn't even get a chance to eat all of the Ogie boogie goodies that were there too. But even just the decor, uh, the music, some of the, the visual overlays throughout the park are, are really, really nice.

So, because you said Christmas, I'll just say Halloween, just to throw another .

Beci Mahnken: Okay. Boogie is one of the best things. Ever. It is so much fun. It's a little edgier than you see over in, in, uh, Wal Disney World. I love it. I love how he kind of cackles at you all day long from above the gates of, of, uh, California adventure and yeah, I, I think that they really do it well, and I would love to see some of those elements make it across the country just because it's, I don't know, if I had a choice of where I wanted to go for Halloween, it would definitely be Disney.

Lou Mongello: I just feel like I need to go back. I, I just, I know to go back,

Beci Mahnken: we haven't spent enough time there. We really haven't.

Lou Mongello: We need, we need, That's the funny thing we. We need planning meeting in Disneyland. We, we,

Beci Mahnken: we, yes, we definitely do, um, like three weeks just to get it out of our system. , , [00:32:00]

Lou Mongello: I mean, as long as we're there, we might as well go over to Alan.

It's like right across the street, so. Sure. All right, Becky, I'm picking this one because it says literally, I'm picking this one because it starts off by saying, Hi, Becky, and. Oh,

Beci Mahnken: that's so sweet. It could on to say, Wait,

Lou Mongello: I was gonna wait for the question, I guess. Yeah, I didn't even do a question mark. I've been a long time fan and listener to the podcast.

Lost count of the times. I've laughed and smiled listening to the show over these many years. My question, I have a childhood memory of attending Animal Kingdom in its first or second year, and I distinctly remember short trails that were off the beaten path that I used to wander onto. , I'm not talking about the trails around the Tree of Life or those signature trails in Africa or Asia.

The one, the best of my memory that was I'm talking about was specifically off the beaten path between Africa and Asia. I remember, I know exactly what he's talking about. I remember. Creek running through the trail and you'd have to use stepping stones to continue across the path. Similar models can still be found at Typhoon Lagoon if memory serves right.

I remember visiting Animal Kingdom a few years later, and the same paths were covered up by landscaping and closed off from them. Public from Good Lou. Am I imagining things? Quick answer. No, you're not. Please let me know if so, but regardless, please keep up the good work best to you and your family. And that's from Nicholas Humer.

Um, I, I really like this question a lot because I love the, the details. I love this park and it's interesting when things go away, how we sort of question our own memory if we have seen these or not. Disney's Animal Kingdom was designed from the outset to be a place that was meant for exploration. And if you really remember way back when it first opened, There weren't even maps like you were supposed to, like imagineers wanted you not to have a map and [00:34:00] they wanted you to just sort of explore without worrying necessarily about where you were going.

That obviously doesn't work where Disney fans, we need like our map where creatures of habit, like we need to know exactly where everything, and if you look and sort of in your mind's eye, or if you go on a map where if you're listening, you happen to be in Disney's Animal Kingdom in between Africa.

Africa, and. There are, there's like this, the major sort of walkway that that's in between. But even like when the parks first opened, that almost felt hidden too. Like you almost felt like, and because it's designed that way, that the tree was sort of the hub and it needed to sort of go around the tree and.

Go through the, the, the, I was gonna call it Genesis Garden, but you need to sort of go through that main area on Discovery Island and make your way around the tree. But the, the pathway in between was not necessarily well traversed, because if you remember early on when Asia first opened, there wasn't a lot happening there.

Right? It was like tomorrow land in 1971. Like there was not a lot going on. There was the bird show and like a Coca-Cola stand , and really, oh geez, that was about it. So if you didn't wanna go see the bird show or grab yourself a frozen Coke, you really didn't have any reason to go down. And it's too bad because it, it's so well and so beautifully themed in there.

And probably. I don't know. I don't even know if it was there opening day or even opening year. Um, there was, if you'd walk, so for example, if you're walking from Africa to Asia, the Tree of Life is on your right hand side and Discovery River on the right hand side, on the left hand side, in, in what just appeared to be an overgrowth of, of Bush and brush was this small hidden pathway that.

By design when [00:36:00] it first opened, seemed overgrown and had like lots of of bamboo. And like you almost weren't sure like if you were supposed to go there or not because it wasn't always seen on the maps or not. So you weren't sure like, is this something for cast members? Is this where divine comes out? Am I not supposed to be here, but maybe I should go check it out anyway?

And then at some point years later, Disney opened up this, this pathway a little bit more. They actually put benches up there so you can get out of the sun and take advantage of the covering and get out of the heat. But it was this, it was meant to be this sort of secondary, smaller whining pathway that took you up through the bushes and, and you're right, you had to go on these little stepping stones, um, over this sort of, Small little rushing book.

Um, so you almost felt like you were doing like something if you've ever done Wild Africa Trek. Side. Love it. If you ever come to Walt Disney World and you wanna do something that is arguably the coolest special experience, Wild Africa Trek, I've done it three times. I just did it with my family a couple of months.

I need to, I never posted my videos, but I, we did it. I love, love, love it. And you feel, because you are, you sort of go off these little hidden pathways. But that's what this was. There was this sort of hidden pathway that was off this hidden pathway that allowed you to sort of go on your own little mini Disney animal kingdom, like Treking Adventure.

Um, I think they had a sign, I think at one point they put a tiny sign there and it was like there and it was gone. And it wasn't necessarily only there. Uh, and I don't know why it ended. I, I think now it's completely overgrown. I don't think you can actually go on the the trail as well, because I think at one point it took you to an area of benches and there was a smoking area there, which I don't think is a smoking area anymore.

I think all the smoking areas are now outside [00:38:00] the front of the park. I also think at some point they built, I have to go back. You know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to do. A live, I'll do a live or a video from Animal Kingdom. I'll find this path if it's still there. Cuz I think they, they actually, um, there may have been like a small gazebo that they built back there, but it, it was, this is a very long answer because I'm sort of trying to remember as, and going through in my mind's eye to this somewhat invisible, hidden like bonus little experience that you can do that, that felt like you were doing something that was.

As I think Roddy, the Imaginers wanted to, to be was this reward for discovery, right? Even when you go around the Tree of life, like, um, as you mentioned going on the Tree of Life to some of those little hidden pathways and the waterfall, which you have never gone to the, the side of Tree of Life and sort of found that hidden pathway to the waterfall.

I think it's one of the most beautiful spots in any of the Disney parks. That's exactly what this path was meant to be, and I, it's been so long since I've even thought about it. I'm not even sure that it's.

Beci Mahnken: Well, that, that was one of the wonderful things that I loved about Animal Kingdom was to explore and just find, kinda like being off in the woods somewhere, running into beautiful spots that you felt may have been undiscovered in that kind of environment.

I loved that. I didn't get a chance to. See the, the pathway that you're talking about, at least I don't remember it. I would love to see more of that. I think that's one of the reasons why I like the, the Trek so much. Even though it's, it's well worn and I know exactly what's gonna happen around e every bend, it still kind of feels like you're out in the middle of nowhere.

Uh, something that I kind of enjoy, especially in the, the craziness that can be the theme

Lou Mongello: park, the next time you come to Disney Animal Kingdom, which I know by your own self-imposed rules, you will only go and visit when the temperature is [00:40:00] between, under like, what is it, under 67 degrees. So that that two weeks in January, I will take you there and we will try and find.

This path. I'll leave you and you, my friend, listener with this question. One, have you ever been to this path, ever seen this path? Have you ever, Do you have any photos of this path? Because if they're, I'm sure they're very, very hard to find. I did a quick search as Becky was talking and there really isn't a lot that I was able to come up with, if not, Becky, do you have.

A and club 33 doesn't count, so just do you have a special, Is there something like a little hidden gem, a little hideaway, a little walking path, something that is sort of off the beaten path that you like to show guests or friends or even first time or, or repeat visitors when they come to the parks that maybe they have never seen or discovered before?

Beci Mahnken: Well, you know what I really love because it's there. It's not really undiscovered, but so many people don't go there is Tom. So Island. I really do like going over there, finding just a little trail or a little path in. Exploring and discovering and sitting down and kind of just enjoying the space. Um, so many people don't go over there anymore, uh, or it has not been as packed or as crowded as some of the other locations in the park.

I also like going out to Rafiki. In Animal Kingdom. Um, you take the little train over there and I, I love going in and watching the, um, the animal hospital where a lot of people don't realize that you can walk up to a window and see the animals being cared for by their vet team. And it, it's, it's kind of a neat, um, Way to experience what is actually happening behind the scenes at Animal Kingdom.

Those are my two.

Lou Mongello: I, you know, I have to think about this one cuz I thought that I had one and now I'm like,

Beci Mahnken: now you're afraid to tell people about it. .

Lou Mongello: It's like, [00:42:00] I'm not gonna give

Beci Mahnken: it away. I've got this thing is

Lou Mongello: no, because that's, Listen, it's, it's part of what I, I love doing on the show is, is showing some of.

Overlooked areas and, And secret pathways. Mm-hmm. for years, and it'll be interesting once Toronto opens for years, so many people had never taken the pathway in between Fantasy land and tomorrow land. Oh, I remember right from by the train, going back all the way to the tomorrow, land, power and light company.

Um, obviously that's still closed.

Beci Mahnken: That's, that's the trick or treat trail, right? Or it was at one time it was

Lou Mongello: a trick or treat trail at one point. Okay. Um. I don't see, I don't know if this experience, and I'm always hesitant cause I don't know what experiences are still there cause I don't think Right this one is there anymore.

But ripping off your Tom Square Island made me think about the Liberty Square riverboat, which I love by the way. Uh, I love when they do the, the, the holiday overlay of that. But you used to be able to go into the captain's quarters. And I, and the last time I was there, the captain's quarters were locked, but you actually able to used to go into and sit inside the captain's quarters and there was all kinds of neat little details and props and it was very comfortable and, and there was like leather.

I mean, you can look in the window and it's still there, but I don't think that the room is accessible anymore. Um, That's a bummer. It is a bummer. I, I, I'll, this one's, this is not a hidden thing and this is more of an experience and I think you have to ask for it and, and it's not a guaranteed thing is speaking of the river boat, um, do you know that you can captain, you can pilot the river boat?

If you or your child asks nicely, and I think they still do this, you can actually go and ride in the pilot house up on top of the riverboat and you're given a certificate, I probably shouldn't say this, but you're given a certificate, [00:44:00] um, sort of like anymore honorary as an honorary pilot of the river.

But I'll find mine. I know I have a scan of it somewhere. I'll find mine. And I'll post it in the, the clubhouse cuz it's one of those things that it's not on a map, it nobody's gonna tell you about, but if it's, you know, if a cast member asks you to do it or if you ask and they allow you to do it, it's this cool takeaway.

Like, I can't believe I did this for my kid, my dad, my girlfriend, whatever it might be. Um, any other secret spots? You know what I, it's not a secret, but I don't think anybody even goes down there. But if you go down Main Street USA and you go to Center Street and you make the right, so few people go all the way to the back, and the way that that street is designed is it's meant to design.

It was designed to look as though that as Main Street was expanding forward, right? Cuz you're moving forward through time as you go from the town square. to the ice cream parlor and it's showing the advancement and the expansion of this small Midwestern town. If you stand at the intersection of West Center Street, there used to be an East Center street, but that was closed off when the important expanded.

If you look down, it's specifically designed using force perspective and some just interesting, um, uh, design and geometry. It looks as. That the path starts to sort of veer off to the right and sort of just goes off in the distance and you can't see where it ends. But if you walk all the way down West Center Street, not only should you stop and listen to the singing and tap dancing lessons coming from the window when the window is open upstairs, but if you follow that all the way to the back, There's a wonderful, beautiful, covered seating area that is never crowded.

You wanna get yourself a nice little nache from Casey's or a little ice cream or maybe something sweet or a thing of popcorn. You need to go and let you or your child sort of. D melt down a little bit. [00:46:00] It's a really, really nice place in the back of West Center Street. So that's a little bit of a, of a secret nook.

Beci Mahnken: I don't even think I've ever been back there. Becky,

Lou Mongello: in all honesty, I will take you. I will take you the next time you come here, I'm gonna show you five things in Walt Disney World that you've never done.

Beci Mahnken: Okay, you're on. There's one. You have to come up with four more, which that might be a little

Lou Mongello: difficult.

So wait, there's the pathway if it's still there. Uh, you've on the

Beci Mahnken: pathway. The, the trick or treat?

Lou Mongello: No, no, no. Not no. Pathway in, in disease. Animal kingdom. Right. I'll show you West Center Street. I will bet Dollars to donuts. You've never been to the Tree of Life Garden. There's no way. There's absolutely no way Becky's been to the tree.

Becky, I know you, you've never been to the Tree of Lifeguard. I would probably bet a dollar that you've never been on the Gorilla Falls Exploration

Beci Mahnken: Trail. Yes, I have. That one I have been on, so no, you're not gonna win on that one. I'll give you the other three

Lou Mongello: I had guide. Take me through the trails. Geez.

Beci Mahnken: Um, so that's where we're going now. Okay. You, you have two more. I'm sure you could, I'm sure you'll come up with something.

Lou Mongello: I'll bet you have never been in the Fe's house. The what? Ah, right. The what as been been in the, in the fe. I have to write these down. You've never been in the Feds house. You've never been on the secret Canadian walkway.

Beci Mahnken: Oh, I have been on the secret Canadian walkway. Sorry about that. The F House. What is a Fs house? No, I'm

Lou Mongello: Don't ring with, Don't Google Fz house. Don't be in cheater and be like, Oh, I knew the F House all along.

Beci Mahnken: No. Nope. Can't say I did.

Lou Mongello: We'll find, Yeah, there's a, there's a couple of other ones.

Beci Mahnken: Oh, I'm sure that that could be an entire.


Lou Mongello: sure, but this is a very long answer to a question that I love because it was good. No matter how many times you come to Walt Disney World, right, And we've been hundreds if not thousands, [00:48:00] there's always something, Excuse me, I'm getting for cleed. There's always something that you haven't seen. There's always something else.

To discover, not just because it is this living, breathing, ever changing, a wonderfully special place, but sometimes there's just things that are hiding in plain sight that you don't necessarily know to go and look for or look at. Um, and I love and I applaud and I appreciate the imaginaries for putting them in there.

I'll ask this question. The clubhouse. What's your secret spot? What's that secret spot or the pathway or that overlooked, not, not sort of add-on experience, but other experience that you might be able to, to find or show people, uh, in Walt Disney World that most people you think don't. I'll bet you, I don't think you can get there anymore.

Did you ever go to the extended Muppets queue?

Beci Mahnken: No,

Lou Mongello: I don't have extended m. There was an extended Muppets queue outside, which I think has been closed off and that I know after expansion years ago, part of it was, was closed off. There was actually the, Do you remember, it looked almost like a boiler, but it was sort of decorated to look like a Muppet Outback.

You don't remember any of this? No. I don't remember any of this. I'll have to do another top 10. About top 10. Like little thing. I think, and I, we've done this before, like things that we've lost in Walter's world, but little things like, and the posters, like the Muppet movie posters, the Muppet movie posters.

Those are really cool. Becky Muppin Muppets, by the way, are these small puppets that were created by Jim Henson years. Well, I'll help you with that too. Well, I learned

Beci Mahnken: about the, the origins of animal not too long ago, so that made me happy. Oh, I do have to interject where you were just talking a minute ago about, um, not sure if you really saw something because it was so long ago and your memory doesn't, you know, quite.

Kick off correctly. I have to revise that information about Disneyland candlelight professional. I don't think there are any packages there. Okay. Sorry. [00:50:00] That's good to know. I was thinking about that and I know that that was really bugging me is is after we, after you asked it and I talked about it, I don't think there is.

Okay. I think I'm mixing it up with Disney.

Lou Mongello: Moving on. I was confused with the Luang Angelo Cozy Cone package where I'll take you on a guided tour of each and every one of the different co. How nice would that be? Like a little cozy cone buffet. Anyway, it's sort of what I do when I normally go to Disney, California.

If I did. Anyway, I will put these questions for you to share. Your answers and uh, be part of the community and conversation over at ww radio.com/clubhouse. If you have a question that you would like us to answer on a future episode, please email me lou ww radio.com. And then now that you're all excited about going to find these places in world inland and Japan is opening up this month too, maybe you want to go with us cuz we're go by the way, Becky, you're going back to Japan.

Go and visit Becky and her amazing team of travel advisors over at Mouse Van Travel. Dot com. Dot com. Japan. That's it. I hope I leave the door open and you go.com. Sorry, I'm just

Beci Mahnken: like, I'm think you said Japan. When you said Japan, all of a sudden I went back to thinking about, remember the grapes in Japan?

Lou Mongello: remember I was just gonna ask you like what's the first thing that you think of when you think of Japan? Becky thinks of the side. These grapes that were like the size of plum. They

Beci Mahnken: were huge. They were huge, and. So delicious. And, and remember we were there and the emperor was being seated crowned.

However, you, whatever you do with an emperor, uh, just, you know what they do. And

Lou Mongello: it looked like . You know what, as an emperor yourself, you know exactly what the crown ceremony is like. But,

Beci Mahnken: but you know, just that whole entire trip

Lou Mongello: still, if you go back to Japan tomorrow, where would be the first place you'd go?

Beci Mahnken: Oh, wow.

Tokyo, Disney Sea . Wow,

Lou Mongello: Okay.

Beci Mahnken: Only because we haven't, we didn't really spend a lot of time. We, we haven't spent enough time [00:52:00] there. Um, Kyoto though, with Piha on the list, um, I'm not gonna say the American restaurant that we went to, because, you know, still one of the most. The strangest anomalies I've ever experienced, um, traveling

Lou Mongello: anywhere.

I know exactly. I know literally exactly where I would go. And I wish I knew what the name. It's in Kyodo. It's this little side street when I went off on my own one day and a couple of folks went the group with us, and I found this. Wonderful. Old, old, old, old antique store. And my family used to own an antique store and, and if you know what I mean, you know what I mean, It smelled like antiques, right?

It smelled like an old antique store. But there was amazing stuff that was in there. And I just spent so much time and I bought all these cool things to, to bring home for friends and family, and right next door was this little tea house and they just sat outside and I had a CO and I was like, Oh, like this is exact.

I've, I'm getting that smile on my face again that you saw the first time we sat down and had that Edo style sushi in that little Japanese restaurant, . That's, that's how much I enjoyed it. So out

Beci Mahnken: of, out of all, I mean, we've done, we've been blessed to have been able to experience a lot of this, this earth, and there's still a lot to go.

But I, for both of us, I think that that Japan trip and, and parts of the China trip were definitely. Up there is the number one and two things we've ever done.

Lou Mongello: Well, and it's why I'm gonna, it's why as soon as I disconnect you from this call, I'm gonna announce that we're going back to Japan at some point

Beci Mahnken: in the, uh, it's on the, It's on the list.

It's on the list. I know it's on the

Lou Mongello: list. It's on the list for things for so many things to discuss, do and do together. Speaking of which, go to wdw.com/events. You can find out about other events that we are doing together, including our crews on the very maritime crews on the wish. In December, we're going on our eight night fantasy Bermuda Cruise and.

I I'm gonna hang up on you as I finish this sentence to avoid you from screaming in the listener's ear, but we are going [00:54:00] to announce some other events that we have been talking about and planning, dare I say, scheming very, very, very soon. There's

Beci Mahnken: a lot of scheming going on, that's for sure.

Lou Mongello: When you say ski, I'm so scared.

It sounds a little more nefarious than it's supposed to be. ,

Beci Mahnken: I'm so scared. Every time you start talking about it, I'm gonna, It's like we need to wait. There's so much more. The list is huge.

Lou Mongello: We, I'm looking at the whiteboard and you just, you don't even know what you're, Oh, the things that

Beci Mahnken: 2028. Oh my gosh.

Just saying 2028.

Lou Mongello: I'm having, I'm having palpitations again. .

Beci Mahnken: So much of this earth to see and experience undo, which I'm so glad that Disney has its hand in so many locations with adventures by Disney. So anybody who wants to experience more of this planet Adventures by Disney is a huge, huge, huge, um, piece of that puzzle, and we can help

Lou Mongello: you do that.

So many cultures and cuisines, the food, ice, the food, the food is so,

Beci Mahnken: You haven't met a country, you haven't. Ate... Wait,

Lou Mongello: what? .