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Welcome to Episode 83 of the RetroWDW Podcast: The Disney Institute – We appreciate your support and hope you have been enjoying each and every episode. Be sure to check out some of our previous shows from over the years. We have visited multiple parks, resorts, and just about everything else in between.
We open the mailbag monthly and are ready to hear from you. Be sure to reach out with questions, stories, memories, and more. You never know if your letter will be read on a future episode: firstname.lastname@example.org
- John from Texas is up first this episode and he is curious about the Millenium Village. We go into what we remember and our various experiences with this early 2000s EPCOT add-on.
- Another letter from another John, this time an update on the smellitzer in Living With the Land. John sent us a link to a video with some cold, smelly proof…. Click Here to have a listen.
- We have another note, from another guy named John! This John reached out about a time capsule and we love these. John wanted to give us the info on the Nickelodeon Studios Time Capsule. Lots of updates on this one….
- Our final letter, from Jimmy and he sent us lots of positive words. Jimmy also shared with us a Christmas ’94 video which is super fun. We also go deep into programming your VCR back in the 80s and 90s.
- Bret wrote in and thanked us for mentioning the vintage Norway pavilion t-shirt he sent in. He has an entire site tracing the history Disney apparel tags from 1972-2010. So if you’ve got an old t-shirt and are looking to figure out an approximate date of its manufacture and sale then head on over to Brett’s excellent resource site at defunkd and don’t miss Brett’s blog where he breaks down the stories behind some of the coolest retro t-shirts you’ll ever see at the Digital Shirt Musem.
In this episode, we head back to the mid-1980s when Michael Eisner took a vacation at The Chautauqua Institution and decided to bring its blend of enrichment, entertainment, and fun back to Florida, adding a “uniquely Disney” touch. Originally conceived to be part of the Disney Development Corporation’s “Celebration” project, The Disney Institute opened in February of 1996 on the site of the former Lake Buena Vista Townhouses/The Disney Village Resort, offering “Discovery Vacations” where guests could choose from a variety of classes in the topics of Culinary Arts, Design Arts, Entertainment Arts, Environment, Lifestyles, Story Arts, and Sport and Fitness.
After a brief recap from How about what the property was used for before the institute opened, Brian walks us through the history of the development of the Institute, the brainchild of then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner. Using a treasure-trove of original documents as a reference, Brian covers the ambitious launch of the Institute and its many educational programs and specialized facilities, shares first-hand stories from listeners who vacationed at the Institute, and tracks the eventual decline and reimagining of The Disney Institute as a corporate training program as guest demand for an inclusive educational vacation experience fell off.
The Disney Institute was a unique idea that fell victim to shifting vacationer demographics. Could the concept become relevant again in our more “me”-centered society? You won’t believe what you can do!
Disney Institute Documents
- Disney Institute Guide
- Welcome to the Disney Institute
- Disney Institute Performances Schedule Dec 1996
- Disney Institute Holiday Package Brochure 1996
- Disney Institute Day Visitor Brochure 1
- Disney Institute Day Visitor Brochure 2
- Disney Institute Seasons Restaurant Menu
- Disney Institute Photography Course Description
- Disney Institute Day Visitor Program Offerings
- Disney Institute Schedule December 2-8, 1996
- Disney Institute Italian Recipes
- Disney Institute Wine Wonders Song of Italy Course
- Disney Institute Sample A Program Leaflet
- Disney Institute Program Evaluation Form
- Disney Institute Welcome Letter
- Disney Institute Announcement Press Release
- Disney Institute Partial Map 1
- Disney Institute Partial Map 2
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