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Disney World's history or horticulture: Which talk would you prefer?

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Disney World's history or horticulture: Which talk would you prefer?

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This is going to seem kind of counter-intuitive. But if you're in the Orlando area this weekend and want a genuinely memorable Mouse-related experience, don't go to a Disney theme park.


Instead - on Saturday evening - make your way over to the Holiday Inn at Downtown Disney. Where - starting at 6 p.m. - you can then take sit on a meeting of the World Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club.

A WDW cast member preps perennials backstage at the Resort's tree
farm. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"Why would I want to do that?," you ask. Because the special guest speaker at this month's meeting will be Wayne McGonigal, the owner of Horticultural Ideas. Which is this "Garden Personality" company which specializes in small-scale residential landscape work in the greater Orlando area.

"And why would I be interested in listening to Mr. McGonigal speak?," you query. Because Wayne moved to O-Town from St. Louis back in 1989 to pursue a horticultural career with the Mouse. And over the past 20+ years, he moved up swiftly through the ranks. Going from working at the Land Pavilion at Epcot to becoming Gardner in the Parks. These days, Mr. McGonigal is a part-time facilitator at the Disney Institute, where he has worked since 1995.

So - obviously - Wayne is a guy who really knows his history when it comes to the more horticultural aspects of the Walt Disney World Resort. And he's expected to share some of those stories as part of Saturday night's talk.

Photo by David Roark. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

More to the point, even though this World Chapter meeting is being held just a week or so before Halloween, look for McGonigal to talk about what it takes to get Walt Disney World ready for the holidays. With a particular emphasis being placed on the huge role that WDW's Horicultural department plays in getting the Disney theme parks decorated for Christmas.

Now please keep in mind that registration for this gathering of Disneyana Fan Club members begins at 6 p.m. (with club members expected to pay a $4 entrance fee for this meeting, while non-members will be an $8 door fee). And once this meeting gets underway at 6:45 p.m. that the evening's entertainment will include a live auction of Disney collectibles.

If you're staying at Walt Disney World and are worried about how you might get to this month's gathering of World Chapter members ...  Not to worry. Again, it's being held at the Holiday Inn at Downtown Disney (which is located at 1805 Hotel Plaza Boulevard in Lake Buena Vista, FL). Which means that you can use WDW's own transportation system as a way to get to this hotel. Better yet, this Disneyana Fan Club event is expected to wrap up by 9:30 p.m. Which means that it won't eat into too much of your precious WDW vacation time.

Copyright Ayefour Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved

On the other hand, if you're a Disney World history buff who is down at the Resort this weekend and actually do have access to a car ... Well, you may want to consider driving off-property on Sunday afternoon and then heading over to Winter Park.

Why For? Because this Sunday afternoon in the Community Room of the Winter Park Public Library, noted Disney historians Jim Korkis and Greg Ehrbar will be holding court.  To be specific, the authors of "The Vault of Walt: Unofficial, Unauthorized, Uncenosred Disney Stories Ever Told" and "Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records " will be sharing stories about the early, early days of Walt Disney World.

And given that it's rumored that both Jim & Greg will be digging down deep in their personal archives to unearth some special audio-visual treasures ... Well, you don't want to miss out on this special off-site celebration of the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Vacation Kingdom of the World (which - for all of you Disney trivia buffs out there - was the way that Walt Disney Productions executives tried to describe WDW to the world in the late 1960s / early 1970s. That because Walt Disney World was so much more than just a Disneyland-style theme park, Mouse House managers felt that the place needed a catchphrase that more accurately described what this place was really all about. Hence the moniker "The Vacation Kingdom of the World." And just to make sure that people actually knew where Disney World was being built, Disney executives used to insist that the WDW logo had a flag sticking out of it which read "Florida").

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Anyway ... Greg & Jim's presentation is slated to run from 2 - 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 23rd at the Winter Park Public Library. Which is located at 460 E. New England Avenue in Winter Park, FL. For further information on this historical talk and/or to register in advance for this event, please call 407-623-3279. Admission is free.

So there you have it. If you're a Disney World history buff and/or horticultural fan, there's a talk that's sure to suit your interests being held in and around the Orlando area this weekend.

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