This is an interesting day because there are a couple of little stories that I have been waiting since the first day of this blog to tell. These are stories that I share with my science classes every year and I’ve looked forward to the appropriate time to share them here. Here it is.
This is Super Bowl Sunday when 113,000,000 close, personal friends get together to celebrate the two teams that have somehow made it through a 17 week regular season, a grueling post-season and arrived at the pinnacle of their sport. The first two “Big Games” were won by the Green Bay Packers and they were my favorite team, like most young boys my favorite team was the winning team. We all love a winner. But in 1966 they started up a team that caught my fancy and I have been a fan ever since, the Miami Dolphins. My love for the Dolphins was cemented when, in 1972, they became the only undefeated team in the history of the NFL, a perfect 17-0. This is when I really became a football fan.
So why should the Super Bowl inspire you to go to Walt Disney World? Well, in 1987, Phil Simms from little ole Morehead State University (My wife has three and I have two degrees from MSU, my third being from the University of Kentucky) was the winning quarterback in Super Bowl XXI. Simms had an almost perfect game for the New York Giants and beat the Denver Broncos 39-20 but what we’re concerned about here is what happened after the game. You see, Phil Simms was the first MVP of the Super Bowl to say, “I’m going to Disney World!” Thirty-six years and forty-two commercials later the tradition continues. My best wishes to whoever gets to say the phrase this year and even though I have never been a Super Bowl champion, I have been able to say, seven times, “I’m going to Disney World.”
On February 3, 1882, circus owner PT Barnum bought the world famous elephant Jumbo. Barnum bought Jumbo for $10,000 and Jumbo was the star of his circus until his untimely death in a train accident, as the legend goes, protecting a smaller elephant, Tom Thumb, from serious injury. I know there is dispute about Jumbo’s heroics but it’s my blog and I like the idea of Jumbo as a hero. After his death Barnum had Jumbo’s skeleton donated to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the elephant’s heart was sold to Cornell University and the hide was donated to Tufts University where is was displayed in P. T. Barnum Hall until it was destroyed in a fire in April 1975. The elephant’s ashes are kept in a 14-ounce Peter Pan Crunchy Peanut Butter jar in the office of the Tufts athletic director. Jumbo remains the mascot of Tufts University and elephants are featured about the campus. Why should this inspire you to visit Walt Disney World?
Well, it seems that an alumnus of Tufts University bequeathed the mineral rights to a substantial amount of land in Florida to the university. As you have probably guessed, this land was in the heart of what would become Walt Disney World. This would have meant that Tufts could have shut down WDW to extract the minerals beneath the property. In 1964, Walt negotiated a deal that would clear the rights and protect the Disney Company’s use of the land. So in honor of Jumbo, go to the Magic Kingdom and ride Dumbo in memory of the great elephant, the circus entrepreneur, Walt Disney and a university in Massachusetts that ties them all together.
There's nothing like an elephant in the pouring rain.
Animal Kingdom: Kilamanjaro Safari.
I've seen a housefly, but I've never seen an elephant fly.
Magic Kingdom: Dumbo.
How about a couple of birthdays? In 1925, John Fiedler, the original voice of Piglet was born in Platteville, Wisconsin. Fiedler starred in a number of film, television and stage productions. To tie Fiedler even tighter to WDW, he starred in two episodes of The Twilight Zone. So hit the Pooh ride in the Magic Kingdom or The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to honor a meek man with a memorable voice.
Now, on to a man that I would never refer to as meek, Nathan Lane, born on this date in 1956. Lane is a Tony Award-winning actor and the voice of Timon in The Lion King, Spot & Scott in Disney’s Teacher’s Pet, Tom Morrow in Innoventions as well as Albert in The Birdcage, Max Bialystock in The Producers and Ernie Smuntz in Mousehunt. You could go to a number of places in various parks at WDW to honor Nathan Lane but let’s go to EPCOT and check out innoventions and an Audio-Animatronic Nathan Lane.
Is it still an Innovention if it is nine years old?
EPCOT: Innoventions: 2004
February 3, 1965 is known as The Day the Music Died. The anniversary of the day that a small plane crashed and killed three American rock and roll legends: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson. Singer songwriter Don McLean wrote a song about the event, "American Pie," in which he dubbed February 3, 1965 the day the music died. A moment of silence is appropriate, then enjoy the music as you travel through all the different parts of WDW and maybe visit the All-Star Music Resort.
Remember, your best excuse is always: waiting for your dreams to come true.