Thursday, September 30, 2021

HGB Ep. 404 - Walt Disney World

Moment in Oddity - Honey Bee Reproduction (Suggested by: Scott Booker) Warning for little ears.

Many times people refer to reproduction as "the birds and the bees." After learning about honey bee reproduction, we're not sure we should actually do that, especially when it comes to males. When it comes to bees, the only ones getting action are the drones and the Queen Bee. Around seven days after the incubation of a Queen Bee, she will fly outside of the hive and have a little party with around 12 drone bees. This little party takes place mid-air in moderate temperatures around 68 degrees fahrenheit or 20 degrees celsius. The drone reverses his equipment, so that it sticks out of his body and he contracts his abdominal muscles to send out his message to the Queen Bee. Then that part of his body gets cut off and remains inside the Queen Bee and he, well, dies. See, we said this wasn't pleasant for the guys. The next drone comes along and does the same thing after removing the remnants of the previous drone. This mating ritual lasts around 20 minutes and the Queen stores all that spermatozoa in her body, which is around 7 million. We're not sure who counted all that. She stores that for her entire life, deciding which eggs she will fertilize. The fertilized ones become female while the unfertilized become drones. The females become either queens or worker bees. And that determination comes through the feeding of royal jelly, which helps a Queen Bee to grow. While bee reproduction is fascinating if not a tad dangerous, it also certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Fannie Farmer Opens Her Cooking School

In the month of September, on the 24th, in 1902, Fannie Farmer opens a cooking school. Farmer was born in 1857 to a family who believed in women being educated. Unfortunately, her education was delayed by a stroke that left her disabled. In her early 30s, she attended the Boston Cooking School. This was a school that aimed to teach women how to teach cooking so they could become teachers and Farmer eventually became its principal. She published her first cookbook in 1896. This book would revolutionize American cooking through a number of topics like sanitation techniques, nutrition and using precise measurements, which was a novel culinary concept at the time. Farmer left the Boston school in 1902 and opened Farmer's School of Cookery. She had such an expertise in nutrition that she lectured at Harvard Medical School about nutrition for specific diseases and nutrition for children. Farmer died in 1915 at the age of 57, but The Fannie Farmer Cookbook is still in print today.

Walt Disney World (Suggested by Josi from Germany)

Walt Disney World is celebrating its 50th anniversary in October of 2021. This incomparable theme park is exactly what its name describes, a complete world that was the ultimate vision of Walt Disney. Walt Disney World covers a full 27,000 acres and features four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district and 31 resorts, plus its own public works district. There is so much to see and do here, but even better, there are many legends and ghosts on this property. Join us as we share the history and haunts of Walt Disney World.

Disney has been a big part of both of our lives. Both of us were born in California and grew up with the original theme park of Disneyland. The Wonderful World of Disney was a staple in our homes. And as adults, we have enjoyed Walt Disney World. In episode 44, we featured haunted Disneyland and covered the biography of Walt Disney, so we won't be repeating that information here. Walt was a visionary and while he loved Disneyland, he was deeply unsatisfied. His vision of a theme park was so much bigger. He needed a space where he could stretch out his creative genius. He found that space in Bay Lake, Florida, which is today Lake Buena Vista. There were huge swaths of land available on the cheap because much of it was considered swamp land. With his popularity, Walt knew that if anyone knew he was the one purchasing the land, the price would go up, so a cover name was used, Robert Price, and several dummy corporations were started as well. In 1964, 12,400 acres were purchased from three Orlando home builders for $145 per acre. When Disney was done buying, they had spent $5 million on 27,443 acres.

Speculation began throughout the Florida press that the mysterious industry coming to Orlando was headed by the Disney Company and that possibly there was going to be an East Coast Disneyland. By November of 1965, it was no longer speculation because Walt and Roy Disney announced their plans for a new theme park near Orlando. Walt dubbed this the Florida Project and he shared his vision in a film he made shortly before his death. The core of this project was to be the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow or EPCOT, which was a utopian community.

Tragedy struck in December 1966 when Walt died. Roy announced that plans were still going forward and that now the new park would carry his brother's name, but plans to run a city of tomorrow were abandoned. The Reedy Creek Improvement District approved by Florida legislature in May of 1967 and this gives Disney something unique, their own independent municipality. WDW even has its own post office and zip code. On May 30, 1967, ground was broken on the new park and the plans were ambitious. Many of the restaurants and rides that are at the Magic Kingdom have been there for the past fifty years and were the same rides as the ones at Disneyland: It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain and the Railroad to name a few. The castle that anchors the wheel with spokes leading to various lands was called Cinderella's Castle and is much bigger than Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland. A bigger monorail system was incorporated into this park and parking was set up at a separate area, so that the Magic Kingdom was set back and needed to be traveled to via other means, the monorail or ferry.

The Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971 and charged $3.50 admission for adults. Today, it costs around $120 for a day pass to one park. Over 10,000 people were in attendance on that first day to enjoy the seven themed areas which were Main Street, Adventureland, Bear Country, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, and Tomorrowland. Bear Country no longer exists. Along with the Magic Kingdom opening that day, the Contemporary Resort and Polynesian Village Resort both also opened. Not all rides were ready to go that first day. Peter Pan's Flight wouldn't open until October 3rd and as if perfectly planned just for me, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea opened on October 14th. Unfortunately, it no longer exists. A grand opening special ran on NBC at the end of the month and had 52 million people tune in to show. An end of an era would come when Roy Disney died less than three months after the opening.

Plans to expand the world continued with EPCOT Center being the next focus. This was a unique theme part split into two sections. The first was Future World and focused on technology, education and human achievement, while the second was called World Showcase and had various pavilions representing countries from around the world. Many people don't know that the reason there are two radically different parts to EPCOT is that Imagineers couldn't agree on what the park should focus on, so they combined them. This park was anchored by a giant geodesic sphere that holds the Spaceship Earth ride and there were six pavilions that grew to nine. EPCOT opened on October 1, 1982. One of the difficulties for EPCOT would prove to be that innovation moved too fast for it to keep up and many concepts have changed over the years with a major current revamp going on right now. The park will literally be transformed into something fairly new on the Future World side with it being divided into three worlds. Various festivals have been introduced over the years to keep the park popular like the International Flower and Garden Festival and the International Food and Wine Festival. Diane will be doing the 10k for that festival in November.

The third park to open at the world was Disney's MGM Studios that later changed its name to Disney's Hollywood Studios. This park was the brainchild of Marty Sklar and Randy Bright. The park opened on May 1, 1989 and has gone through many changes through the years with the biggest update being Star Wars: Galaxy Edge. The part I love about the park is its nod to old Hollywood from the Golden Age. Originally, this was a working production facility with a backlot, but sections of this closed over the years and no longer exist. The anchor to this park had been the Earffel Tower and then the Sorcerer's Hat, which was removed a few years ago thankfully, as it obstructed the view of the Grauman's Chinese Theater replica. Only two rides were running when this park first opened, but many have been added through the years and there were seven themed areas. The Streets Of America was a replica of a New York Street, but was demolished to make way for Star Wars. This also killed the Osbourne Festival of Lights that ran during the Christmas season. Toy Story Land has also been added. 

The fourth park would be Disney's Animal Kingdom that opened on April 22, 1998. This is like a large zoo with rides and takes up the most acreage of all the parks. This was the brainchild of Imagineer Joe Rohde. Over twenty six hundred workers constructed the areas for the animals from shelters to planting trees and Zulu crafters from South Africa made the thatched roofs for buildings. Disney hired staff from 69 different zoos to oversee care of their animals. There is a safari guests can ride on to see animals in their natural habitat and several trails to hike to see animals as well. Discovery Island is the central part of the park and feeds into Asia, Africa, DinoLand and Pandora: The World of Avatar that was added in 2017. 

Disney obviously doesn't like to talk about deaths at any of their parks, but they have happened over the years. Some employees have been killed while working rides. Once upon a time, there was a skyway that took guests from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland aboard colorful Skyway cars. This ride was a part of the Magic Kingdom from opening day until 1999. The Tangled restrooms now sit where the ride used to board in Fantasyland. Raymond Barlow was a sixty-five-year-old custodian cast member at the Magic Kingdom and one morning before opening, he was cleaning the skyway when it started up and a car pulled him from the platform. He clung to the car until he was over a flower bed, but the forty foot fall still killed him. This happened in 1999 and Disney was fined $4,500 for the “serious” violation of safety standards. The Skyway closed several months later. I remember in 2009 when cast member Austin Wuennenberg was killed in the early morning hours driving the monorail. Two of the trains collided with each other. Two cast members have died at the Primieval Whirl ride at Animal Kingdom, one in 2007 (Karen Price) and another in 2011 (Russell Sherry Roscoe).

And some guests have passed away, like a great grandmother who had a heart attack when a snake dropped out of a tree onto her grandson and bit him. And many people probably recall the tragic loss of a toddler at the Polynesian Village Resort who was attacked by an alligator resulting in big changes with signage and access to water all around the parks and resorts. Other guests have had medical conditions aggravated by rides that caused them to have heart attacks. Some of these deaths have led to hauntings. We need to emphasize that when it comes to ghosts at Walt Disney World, there are many legends with not much evidence. But they are still fun to share.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened in 1994. This is an accelerated drop tower dark ride with great theming based on Rod Serling's Twilight Zone. This is the second tallest attraction at Walt Disney World. A ghost has been seen walking around the attraction during off hours and does not respond to cast members calling out to him and eventually vanishes. Some stories claim that he is wearing a bell hop costume, so perhaps a former cast member. There are many interesting artifacts and props as a part of the theming giving the hotel a really creepy feel. There is the devil fortune telling machine from the episode "Nick of Time" starring William Shatner. One of the teeny tiny attackers from the episode "The Invaders" starring Agnes Moorhead is on a shelf. This episode had a great twist in the end when we discover that the tiny invaders are actually humans visiting a planet of giants and Agnes is one of those giants. But one of these props is really creepy. Caesar is a ventriloquist doll from the Twilight Zone episode entitled "Caesar and Me." In the episode, Caesar manipulates his owner Jonathan West. The actual Caesar now sits among the dusty collection of oddities in the basement and he carries some bad luck with him. If cast members working the ride do not say hello and good night to Caesar every day, they have trouble with the attraction.

And speaking of creepy dolls, Liberty Square has an old doll that occasionally peeks out from the window of one of the stores. Now some people may be unaware that Liberty Square is meant to model a real colonial square complete with a river of poo running through it. This doll is a nod to another tradition of colonial times in which dolls were placed in windows to let firefighters know that a child was inside the house. There is also a firemen’s brigade crest on the building that contains the doll that let firemen know that the family donated to their cause. This doll is said to move about on its own according to cast members. She may appear in a different window or be found sitting somewhere that is not where she is normally kept. 

Across from Liberty Square is Tom Sawyer's Island and it definitely has some creepy caves over there to explore. There are those who claim to see shadow figures in those caves that are not coming from humans. 

The man who made sure that his brother's vision came to fruition, Roy Disney, has been spotted hanging out on Main Street, particularly when it is time for fireworks and he looks like he is watching the show in the sky. 

EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth takes riders through time and the history of communication with lots of animatronics. There are two spirits that are thought to haunt this ride. These are a little boy and a little blonde girl and they are seen both outside of the ride near the entrance and riding on the ride. In either case, they disappear which is how people know that they are not human.

One of our favorite rides is Pirates of the Caribbean. POTC first opened at Disneyland on March 18, 1967. This was originally meant to be a walk-through ride that featured wax figures. When the rides It's A Small World and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln turned out to be huge hits, it was decided to use Audio-Animatronics for the pirates rather than wax figures. It's a special ride not just because it has these glorious animatronic pirates, but this was the last attraction that Walt had his hands all over. He never got to see the final product on this side of life, but Imagineers did push him through the ride on a chair rigged to a dolly. Imagineers who worked on the creation of the ride were Marc Davis, Francis Xavier Atencio (known as "X"), Claude Coats, Yale Gracey and Blaine Gibson. X wrote the lyrics for "Yo Ho (A Pirates' Life for Me)." He also wrote Grim Grinning Ghosts. The POTC ride at the Magic Kingdom opened in 1973. The reason it was not there for the opening was because the company thought that the mystique of the ride would not be there since Florida is so close to the Caribbean, but visitors were vocal about their disapproval of that decision. Guests enter the ride through a Spanish style fort named Castillo Del Morro inspired by a fort in Puerto Rico.

The one at Disneyland is haunted and so is this one at WDW. There are several ghosts here. The first two seem more of a legend because the story connected to them claims that these are two women who died on the ride when the boat derailed during the drop. This accident never happened, but people do claim to see them on the ride and cast members sometimes see them on the security monitors. One lady is described as being wire-haired. George is the most famous ghost at the ride. Legend claims that this is the spirit of a construction worker who fell and died while building the ride. Now whenever the ride has any mechanical issues, George is blamed. To appease George, Cast Members always make sure to say "Good morning" and "Good night" to George. If someone says that they don't believe in George, he will stop the ride. Most Cast Members agree that George hasn't interacted with anyone since 2005

Our favorite ride at the Magic Kingdom is, of course, the Haunted Mansion. We are not going to talk about the history of this attraction on this episode. Rather, we are going to cover that as part of our Halloween episode this year. Just as the Disneyland mansion has real spirits, this one does as well. For some reason, this is a favorite spot for family members to dump ashes of their deceased loved ones and as we said in the Haunted Disneyland episode, this is not a good idea for a number of reasons. This is illegal and unhealthy. The ride will be stopped and shut down for clean-up and your loved one is going to get vacuumed up and thrown away. You are also going to be permanently banned from the park. This may be why we have some spirits here. Or maybe they just had planned to spend the afterlife here. A legend claims that the original spell book in the seance room was a real tome of witchcraft from the 14th century. Cast Members claim they have trouble keeping it upright and that it occasionally disappears.

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion has a little boy ghost and so does the Magic Kingdom's mansion. A photo made it up on Twitter in 2004 that showed a boy peeking his head out of a doombuggy. The person who took the picture said, "As you'll see in the photo after clicking the link, it appears as though a child is peeking his head out of the doombuggy and looking directly at me. Not only was he not there when I took the pic, there wasn't a child of this age within 20 people in front of me in line, and as you can see, he's only a few doombuggies in front of me. Not only that, what's he doing looking at me? There is NO flash, and NO visible light coming from me. It's all infrared, and invisible to the naked eye."

The most seen spirit on the ride is the Man with the Cane. The first time he was ever encountered was on a particularly slow night. There were few people boarding the doombuggies at the loading station. The empty doombuggies come through from the unloading station and on this particular night a Cast Member saw a man with a cane sitting in one of the doombuggies as it came through. The Cast Member was shocked and told the man that he should have gotten out of the doombuggy at the loading station. The man gave no indication that he heard the worker and he continued to sit and went back into the ride. The Cast Member called his fellow worker at the unload station and told him to watch for a man with a cane and make sure that he got off the ride this time. The other Cast Member said he would take care of it and then he proceeded to wait and wait and wait and the man with the cane never showed up. The ride was checked after this to make sure he had not gotten out of the doombuggy and they found no one on the ride. We couldn't find any information on security cameras and what they picked up.He has been spotted multiple times through the years and people think he was a pilot who crashed into Bay Lake before the park was built.

We watched a video on YouTube featuring Kris Star from the Travel Channel and she did some ghost hunting at the Magic Kingdom. She was sitting next to a bush outside the Haunted Mansion where a cast member had told her some asses had been dumped one time and she set up a Mel Meter and used a Spirit Box app on her phone, Necrophonic. She asked how many ghosts were there and it said "ten." That number came up two more times when asked how many people's ashes had been spread there. There were definietly children's voices coming through, particularly laughter, and the Mel Meter indicated temperature changes and the EMF went off. Her camera also turned itself off. Kris asked a spirit to touch the Mel Meter and it started going off like crazy right after that. She asked if they were happy there and a voice said, "I'm excited."

We love visiting the Walt Disney World property. It's always a good time. We never realized that it might be a good place to do a little ghost hunting. Is Walt Disney World haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Link to Kris Star video:

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