09 December 2016

A Hippo in a Palm Tree

The Jingle Cruise additions to the classic Adventureland attraction, to my mind, create one of the best holiday overlays since the Country Bears had their Christmas Special. Sailing with the yuletide is terrific, but as your jungling all the way through the rivers of the world, I feel as though you need a carol to help you on your way. Luckily for us, Disney has released a set of pins this season that coincides with the Jingle Cruise. The entire set is a play on the classic 12 Days of Christmas, but with a distinctly Adventureland feel, which means that you can expected a few visitors from outside of the jungles of the Jingle Cruise.

Collecting the entire set just to gather the entire lyrics to the song can really make you frosty, but luckily we’ve worked out a deal with Sam to get a head start. So, as your prepare to get your boat under water (I mean underway!), or are just trying to liven up your holidays back home, why not confound everyone you know by belting out this tune!


The 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to me a hippo in a palm tree

On the second day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to me two boat loaders and a hippo in a palm tree

On the third day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to m three striped horses, two boat loaders, and a hippo in a palm tree

On the fourth day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to me four tiki birds, three striped horses, two boat loaders, and a hippo in a palm tree

On the fifth day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to me five golden life rings, four tiki birds, three striped horses, two boat loaders, and a hippo in a palm tree

On the sixth day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to me six fish a biting, five golden life rings, four tiki birds, three striped horses, two boat loaders, and a hippo in a palm tree

On the seventh day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to me seven snakes a hissing, six fish a biting, five golden life rings, four tiki birds, three striped horses, two boat loaders, and a hippo in a palm tree

On the eighth day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to me eight trunks a squirting, seven snakes a hissing, six fish a biting, five golden life rings, four tiki birds, three striped horses, two boat loaders, and a hippo in a palm tree

On the ninth day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to me nine spears a flying, eight trunks a squirting, seven snakes a hissing, six fish a biting, five golden life rings, four tiki birds, three striped horses, two boat loaders, and a hippo in a palm tree

On the tenth day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to me ten leopards leaping, nine spears a flying, eight trunks a squirting, seven snakes a hissing, six fish a biting, five golden life rings, four tiki birds, three striped horses, two boat loaders, and a hippo in a palm tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to me 11 skippers skipping, ten leopards leaping, nine spears a flying, eight trunks a squirting, seven snakes a hissing, six fish a biting, five golden life rings, four tiki birds, three striped horses, two boat loaders, and a hippo in a palm tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my Skipper gave to me 12 natives drumming, 11 skippers skipping, ten leopards leaping, nine spears a flying, eight trunks a squirting, seven snakes a hissing, six fish a biting, five golden life rings, four tiki birds, three striped horses, two boat loaders, and a hippo in a palm tree

06 December 2016

Lost City Specialty

Happy Taco Tuesday everyone! There are a lot of taco options in Walt Disney World, but today we’re going to double up on an order of fish tacos. We’ll start on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon before venturing off to one of our favorite watering holes in Disney Springs.

The Seven Seas Lagoon could lead us to many locales, but if we’re looking for fish tacos, then we could only wash up on the beach of the Polynesian Village. To be more specific, we’re headed in to Capt. Cook’s for the handily named Fish Tacos. This dish includes a generous portion of the fish of the day, blackened, and then placed on a flour tortilla. It is topped with broccoli slaw and served with French fries.

The blackened spices come across as having a distinctly Latin flavor, and provide the fish with a nice kick. While a mayonnaise based slaw is not the typical trimming for such a dish, the broccoli slaw does a nice job with the fish. The slaw is crunchy and brings some new flavors to the party, especially the bitter cabbage type flavor present due to the broccoli. The flour tortilla is nothing special, but does an admirable job of holding the taco together. If anything seems out of sorts with the Fish Tacos, however, it is the side dish of fries. I have nothing against fries as a general rule, but they just seem a bit lost with being included here. Some fresh fruit or couscous seems like a more complimentary addition.

Let’s head down to Disney Springs, and if you haven’t guessed by now that I’m headed for Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, then shame on you! We’ve sung the praises of the Hangar Bar many times over the past year, but today we’ve ventured deep into the menu to procure the Lost City Specialty, the Tanis Tuna Tacos. This trio of tacos starts with a freshly prepared tortilla shell. Seared Ahi tuna, that has been prepared with ancient spices we’ve been told, is next to be added. To the tuna is added Pico de Gallo, cilantro, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, and each is topped with a different colored slice of jalapeno pepper. On the side is a freshly toasted lime, complete with juicer.

The sear on the tuna is top notch, making certain that the fish is not overcooked, and the spices bring out the wonderful mild and buttery flavors of the tuna. The ancient spices add some heat and give these tacos a sense of place we’re not typically used to with fish tacos. The typical taco toppings of Pico de Gallo, lettuce, guacamole, and sour cream are nice, but aren’t wow factors. The tortilla is puffed up giving it just the right amount of chewiness and crispiness. The real stars however, are the tuna and the toasted lime. Combining the Ahi tuna with the warm flavors of the lime is an amazing duo.

Both tacos deserve to be part of any Taco Tuesday, or maybe a Fish Friday? Either way, Capt. Cook’s and Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar have put together to excellent fish taco dishes. If I had to pick just one, the Hangar Bar’s Tanis Tuna Tacos are far and away some of the best fish tacos I’ve seen anywhere, so I would definitely give them a nod. Whichever you choose, you’re definitely off on a culinary adventure!

05 December 2016

Where it's Always Jumpin'

When people think of Hilton Head Island, they most often think of lazy summer days. Playing on the shore, or napping beneath the shade of the moss covered live oak trees, maybe even a barbecue or boil going on. It is warm, sunny, and filled with natural wonder and some of the finer things in life. There are people who visit Hilton Head Island, and then there is still life in motion for people who live on the island. Part of that life is the fact that holidays come and go with the passage of time, just as they do wherever you live.

It is worth noting that the people of Hilton Head Island, like many along the eastern seaboard, were dealt a blow this year when Hurricane Matthew came through. The island and it's residence are resilient and have fought hard to regain their sense of daily life. By all accounts Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort is back up and running, and looks just as welcoming as ever. we'll be stopping in for a visit next weekend, so we'll be able to report back on just how gorgeous all the holiday trimmings are.

Like all parks and resorts Disney has a hand in, Disney’s Hilton Head Resort revels in the holiday spirit. Guests decorate rooms, there are warm beverages in the Live Oak Lodge, and there is a festive spirit wherever you look. It isn’t the typical time of year when guests are knocking down the doors to come to a beach resort, and there is definitely a chill in the air, but it is one of our favorite times to go. Since most guests won’t ever get to a chance to pay the resort a visit during the winter, we thought we’d do a little photo safari today, venturing back to 2014, and give you a chance to experience one of the most wonderful times of the year through the eyes of Disney’s Hilton Head Resort.


01 December 2016

A Thirsty Zebra

As Trader Sam would say, “What do you get when you cross a thirsty zebra with a bottle of rum? Yule find out!” Sam has several special concoctions that he whips up during the holidays at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, but today we’re trying our own hand at one of specials, the Red-Nosed Zebra. Let’s go ahead and give you the recipe so that you can follow along.

RED-NOSED ZEBRA

Ingredients

1.5 Ounces Bacardi 8 Rum
1 Ounce Agave Nectar
1 Ounce Strawberry Puree
1/2 Ounce Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 Ounce Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Crushed ice (for Garnish)
3 cranberries (for Garnish)
2 mint sprigs (for Garnish)’

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, except garnish ingredients, fill half full with ice, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
Strain into a margarita glass filled with crushed ice.
Garnish with a mound of crushed ice, cranberries, and mint sprigs (mint will be two green antlers and the cranberries are for the eyes and nose).

This is a simple and straightforward drink to prepare, speaking just in the terms of the cocktail itself. The garnish can be trying to put together correctly, especially if you don’t have easy access to crushed ice, and can result in losing some of the tasty beverage! If you’d like my advice, the drink does not necessarily need the red nosed creature on top, and your guests will not notice that it is missing if you they aren’t aware of Trader Sam’s version.

Now, everything tastes better when it comes from Trader Sam’s, as I’m sure we’ll all agree, but the Red-Nosed Zebra is an excellent and easy cocktail to make at home. None of the ingredients are difficult to find and the fresh fruit juices and puree work really well with the rum. The agave cuts some of the citrus fruits’ acidity, but only just enough to take the twinge out and leave the tropical flavors intact. If you’re making up a batch for your next Christmas party, I’ll happily await my invitation!

You know, the Red-Nosed Zebra reminds me of another joke; what’s black, white, and red all over? A sunburned Zebra! Yep, definitely sticking to the day job...

29 November 2016

Holiday Splendor

The Candlelight Processional is a longstanding Disney tradition and can date back to carolers at Disneyland in 1955. A second version of the show would venture east with the establishment of Walt Disney World, and resided in the Magic Kingdom for more than two decades. In fact, the Candlelight Processional as we know it now wouldn’t come to Epcot until 1994. Does that mean that Epcot didn’t have a holiday showcase during its first decade? Of course not!

Between 1983 and 1994 EPCOT Center was home to Holiday Splendor, a stage show that took place at the American Gardens Theater. Following the well-established holiday show format, the show featured guest narrators and singers that could be changed out regularly. While Christmas was the focal point, the show recognized the park it took place in and emphasized how the holidays were celebrated in countries around the globe. Think of it like Holidays Around the World condensed into a single stage production.

Holiday Splendor ran for approximately half an hour with a live orchestra and a host of dancers and performers accompanying the guest narrators. Children would come out and be introduced as guest performers and then take a seat on stage as if hearing the stories as part of the audience.  The pair of children would occasionally stand up and add to the number being performed by the headlining narrator. The opening number was framed around traditions and expressed the story and traditions of Chanukah. Holiday Splendor then moves quickly between customs and rituals common today but that come from Mesopotamia (Zagmuk), pagan druids (mistletoe), and even Chinese New Year before moving into an entirely 1980s EPCOT Center song about the story of Christmas. A whirlwind of songs more commonly associated with Christmas from around the world follows, with the show concluding with dancers and singers representing all nations coming together on the stage in the finale of Let There Be Peace on Earth.

The show was a massive undertaking, but Holiday Splendor was not presented every night between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. In fact, in 1989, when the above photo was utilized to promote the production, it would only run December 16-17 and 20-23 with two performances per night, and with three performances a night for December 25-30. A grand total of 30 performances for the season, which would be considered a drop in the bucket these days, but it put a definite emphasis on the times when they knew guests would be present.

There have been many holiday performances in the parks over the years, and each has its own tale to tell. The Candlelight Processional is certainly the most storied, but every show has its supporters and those who love it best of all. Yet, I’m certain that Holiday Splendor holds a special place in many hearts out there.

28 November 2016

Twinkling Twilight

For some the best part of the holidays is the ability to bring out and put up all of the wonderful decorations. In fact, around my house, I try to see how big of a tree I can get the missus to agree upon and continually try to find ways to decorate the front lawn while maintaining the modesty the missus insists upon. She loves the holidays, but does not share my overzealous glee for some of the finer elements of the season. The folks over at the 50s Prime Time Cafe and Tune-In Lounge, however, completely get me.

Oh sure, we differ on style of tree. I prefer something fresh cut, even if it has gaps and holes, while they go all out with their tinsel tree. It’s the typical Charlie Brown debate. Seriously though, take a look at these wonderful throwback ornaments! They truly set this tree in its own place and time.

25 November 2016

Delights and Indulgences

Food may be the furthest thing from your mind after yesterday, but with the end of thanksgiving comes the true beginning of the Christmas season, regardless of what retailers have been stocking their shelves with for weeks and months at this point. With that in mind, we’re bypassing the Christmas gifts for today in order to focus in on a Christmas treat. On a stroll around World Showcase, tucked away in a corner of Germany, we found a traditional fruit cake.

Okay, now I know some of you think I’ve gone around the bend and have already shut this article down, but what I’m talking about is fruit cake in its traditional form. It’s called Stollen, and it has about as much to do with the heavy, syrupy bricks we know as fruit cake as Christmas has to do with Independence Day. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the slices served up at the Prost kiosk in Epcot.

Let’s start with the Stollen basics. The bread is low in sugar content, and gets its flavor from the cinnamon, cardamom, orange zest, and other spices that are worked in. Don’t get confused, this is definitely a sweet treat, but that sweetness comes from the nuts and candied fruits baked into the loaf and the sugar icing that coasts the outside of the finished fruit cake.

So, how does Prost’s Stollen stack up? It was dryer than I expected, but that may come from the fact that there the only candied fruits in this version were raisins. There were also no nuts to be found. I would have preferred some almonds and candied orange peel, personally, but this was a fine example of how to do a fruit cake right. The sugary topping give the bread all the sweetness it really needs, and the spices are right out of any Christmas cookbook.

The not too sweet, not overly heavy fruit cake from Prost is a win in my book. The Stollen is a great introduction to the more traditional side of Chirstmas baking. I would recommend making sure you have something to drink alongside the fruit cake, to combat the dryness that can be present. Luckily for us, the Prost marketplace has a great selection of beverages fit for the young and young at heart. The next time you think all fruit cakes are the same, just remember that there is a tasty alternative out there, just waiting for you to venture through World Showcase and give it a try!