1989 Florida

Hi everyone! This was our second trip to Florida. Again, written in diary form. In 1988, we took a bus trip via Starr Tours, which was really interesting as we made all kinds of stops along the way including St. Augustine. But we both wanted to see more of Disney. We didn't get to cover as much of Epcot Center as we wanted. So, when I heard Donny Osmond was doing a fan club get-together in Florida the following year in conjunction with the Children's Miracle Network Telethon, it seemed the perfect opportunity to go again. It was Donny's big comeback with his Soldier of Love single. I've been a big fan since 1972. Margaret has not been a fan to say the least. LOL But I must say, she was more than a good sport to spend one day of our vacation at the get-together. I think she was pleasantly surprised and learned quite a bit about Donny.

Saturday, June 3, 1989
Our trip to Florida began at 7:00 AM at Philadelphia International Airport. My Mom and Dad drove us down. A sky cap asked to take our luggage at curbside. For a $5 tip, he checked our bags right there outside the USAir terminal. We waited inside while Dad went to park the car.

After boarding the plane, we settled into seats 8A and B. Shortly after 8:00 we were on our way to the Sunshine State. Breakfast was served on the flight - orange juice and an
unappealing cheese omelette. Luckily, the flight was a short one, only a couple of hours. We landed at Orlando International just after 10:00. The airport is quite large. We had to take a shuttle just to get to the baggage claim area. After retrieving our bags, we picked up our rental car, a dark blue Dodge Shadow, at Avis and headed out.

We decided to go to Disney's new MGM Studios first since we couldn't check into the hotel until 3:00 PM. We had no trouble getting out of the airport and almost made it to the park without getting lost. We missed the MGM sign and had to turn around. Not bad, though. We arrived at the Studios about 12:00. There were people in the parking lot directing everyone and we were waved on to row 42, all the way to the end! We were glad that all of our luggage fit into the trunk of the car so we didn't have to leave anything in the back seat while we were in the park all day. There were trams available to take hikers to the main entrance. Saves a lot of walking. You need all the energy you can get for the park itself.

Before beginning our trek into the movie and television industry, we stood in line at guest relations to exchange the four-day passes we ordered through the mail a while back for the new five-day passes. The old passes didn't include the MGM park. That taken care of, we took a break and ate a couple of cookies and cream ice cream sandwiches. A nice, cool snack on a beautiful, but very hot day!

Finally ready to explore the park, we headed for the Backstage Studio Tour. The park was very crowded, so we stood in
Disney's infamous "cattle" lines for 45 minutes before boarding one of the trams. During our ride, we saw the Animation Building where all of the characters are drawn and the backlot where the small and large-scale props are stored. The bungalows for "Super Boy" "Win, Lose, or Draw," and the "All New Mickey Mouse Club" are also on the backlot. Next were all of the major departments. The Greens Department stores plants, trees, and shrubs until they're needed for a set. We saw the earful tower, a water tower with Mickey Mouse ears. It's 13 stories tall and each ear weighs 5,000 pounds. In the Costuming Department, we saw some famous outfits on some famous people including Bette Midler in "Big Business," Warren Beatty in "Dick Tracy," Julie Andrews in "Mary Poppins." Michael Jackson in "Captain EO" and the co-stars of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" Over 100 artists draw costumes for the largest working wardrobe in the entire world - 2 1/4 million garments. The Camera, Lighting, and Prop Department was next along with the Scenic Department where carpenters begin construction of sets which are finished on soundstages. Standing sets are used over and over again. Riding down Residential Street, used for Anywhere, USA, we saw Herbie, the Love Bug, the beige house used for the "Golden Girls," and a church which could be used for a small town or city.

The highlight of the tour was "Catastrophe Canyon." The set is an active oil field i an dry, desert canyon, prone to flash floods. Wouldn't you know, a flash flood just happened to start while we were there, causing some pretty effective fires and explosions. Neat. Then it was on to a more quiet New York Street where a production crew was filming Donny Osmond for the Children's Miracle Network Telethon taking place at the park. The buildings are only four stories tall, but by using "forced perspective," they can make them look much taller to the camera. That was the conclusion of the tram part of the tour.

Break time. We stood in line for a bit to get some sodas, then walked through the Loony Bin, a unique store featuring gag gifts, plush toys, and Loony souvenirs. Feeling refreshed, we were ready for the rest of the Backstage Studio Tour, the walking portion. The first attraction is the Water Effects Tank. There's a demonstration of how miniature ships are used to film battle scenes, such as in "The Winds of War." There were a couple of guys from the audience who
volunteered for "duty." One of them was assigned to a battleship and was attacked from all sides. Looks realistic on film. The other guy was a Gilligan type, used to demonstrate storm scenes. Next on the tour was the Special Effects Workshop and Shooting Stage and the soundstages. Two boys volunteered to demonstrate a special effect from the movie, "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids." They climbed onto a large bee. Then they had to pretend the bee was flying while a crew filmed them against a blue background. Later, an outdoor, moving scene can be added to the film in place of the blue background.  On screen, it looks as though the boys are flying through the air on this giant bee. After seeing the Post Production Editing and Audio Workshop, it was on to the Walt Disney Theater. A film there showed special sneak previews of new movies, hosted by Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams. Walter and Robin became animated characters. It was cute, especially when they had to deal with a monster, who was really a coward. We really enjoyed the whole tour. It answers many questions about how movies and television shows are made.

By then, it was time for a late lunch, early dinner. We decided to eat at the Fifties Prime Time Cafe. We walked in about 4:15 and had to make reservations for 4:45. We walked around a bit, took some pictures, and did some shopping. It was really not worth the half-hour wait. The hamburgers were not that great. They're served on whole wheat rolls, not what we had in mind. The decor was interesting, television sets everywhere. They were showing television shows from the 50's, of course.

After our disappointing meal, we headed to the Animation Department. There were Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams again, talking about putting Robin in a movie, "Peter Pan, Little Lost Boy." Robin wasn't too happy about it, but the animation was great. After the film, we walked through the actual studio, but there weren't too many artists at work at the time. Still, we saw all of the steps in the animation process. First, of course, the story is developed, then the animation begins. Once the characters are on paper, the drawings are cleaned and detailed. Effects and backgrounds are added in the photocopying process. Clear cells are made, inked, and painted. Then the cells are photographed individually to create action. The final editing is done and, violá, there's an animated movie. It sure is a lot of work. At the end of the tour, we were seated in the Disney Classical Theater, watching magic moments from favorite animated films.

The Monster Sound Show was a fun attraction. First, four people were chosen from the audience - 2 Jennifers, Holly, and a boy. We were shown a clip from "Death of a Salesman" starring Chevy Chase and Igor in a haunted mansion. This was the original, correct version of the scene. Then, the soundtrack was removed and the four volunteers had to create the sound effects with various gadgets on the stage including wood and paper. They had to do sounds for the wind, footsteps in gravel, thunder and lightening, a door chime, and a chandelier crashing. Then the scene was shown again with the new soundtrack. The kids did pretty good, except they were late with the chandelier crash. In the original scene, Chevy Chase was hit with a tree limb. During the creation of the new soundtrack, everyone in the audience yelled, "Look out!" When they played the new scene, Chevy didn't get hit with the tree limb. He just stepped back to avoid it, turned around, and said, "Thank-you very much." That was cute.

It was another long wait to get into the Great Movie Ride. They kept us entertained by showing movie clips on the screen in the theater as we were standing in line. The ride itself was a tram ride through the most well-known movies. It began with the "Hooray for Hollywood" theme. There was a set of Gene Kelly from "Singing in the Rain," and Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke singing "Chim, Chim Che-ree" from "Mary Poppins." Before we knew it, we were in the middle of an old gangster movie, "Public Enemy," starring James Cagney. There were some minor technical difficulties in the middle of a mob fight. Well, the park is brand new. It only opened in May. Then, we were in the old west with Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. The rest of the sets included Sigourney Weaver in "Alien," Harrison Ford in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," Johnny Weismuller in "Tarzan," scenes from "Casablanca," Mickey Mouse as the Sorcere'’s Apprentice in "Fantasia," and the munchkins singing "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" from "The Wizard of Oz." Lastly, there was a salute to the greatest stars and films including "Gone With the Wind" and "Star Wars."

After a short shopping break to buy postcards and shirts, we went to our last attraction of the day, Superstar Television. Volunteers were chosen from the audience again, this time to act out their favorite television roles. There were scenes from the great "I Love Lucy," "General Hospital," the news with Walter Cronkite, sports with Howard Cosell, "Cheers," "Golden Girls," "David Letterman," and "Johnny Carson." Very enjoyable.

We did some more shopping on the way out of the park. Then, it was on to the hotel, the Ramada Resort Maingate, 2950 Reedy Creek Boulevard, Kissimmee, Florida, 32741. It's only a few minutes from the park. We were in room 2192. There was no elevator. A porter, Mike, carried our bags, but left before we could tip him. There was a fold-up bed left in our room, so we called down to the front desk to make sure we weren't being charged for a third party. We weren't. It was just left there by mistake. We unpacked, watched some television, and went to sleep. Real night owls!