01 July 2015

In Celebration of Our Nation's 200 Birthday Year

The Bicentennial, for those that may not have been around or have strong memories of the time, wasn’t one of those events that you had to ask an organization why they were celebrating. It was more a question of how would they be celebrating. America on Parade was the Disney answer, and they staged their celebration in the grandest fashion they could! Here’s how they sent the patriotic message out to the world:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL. -- Independence Day will be celebrated every day at Walt Disney World for the next 15 months with “America On Parade” happily saluting the nation’s 200th anniversary.

In one of the nation’s biggest birthday parties, typical Disney showmanship will turn 200 years into a colorful procession of historical highlights lasting more than a half hour. Parading down Main Street, U.S.A. will be the “People of America” -- 150 larger-than-life, doll-like characters dressed in period costumes and riding bright and fanciful parade units to the typical tunes of all-America. High-stepping music with guest bands and spectacular fireworks will round out the daily celebration.

The parading extravaganza will be staged at both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California until September, 1976. During some 1200 performances, more than 25-million visitors are expected to attend including two-million guests from foreign lands.

The “People of America,” dressed in the colorful costumes of the past, range from sailors who discovered America to Colonial soldiers, Western frontiersmen, Bowery girls and Tom Sawyer’s friends.

“We created a bigger-than-life spectacle to give all our visitors, young and old, the exciting feeling of being children again,” says Bob Jani, vice-president of entertainment who directed preparation of the parade.

“We want everyone who sees it to go away feeling they really have celebrated America’s birthday,” Jani adds.

The doll-like stars of the parade measure from eight to ten feet tall with parade units up to 30 feet high towering above spectators so that even those in the third or fourth row can see easily as the procession moves down Main Street, U.S.A. and through Frontierland.

Each unit carries its own special musical accompaniment -- toe-tapping combinations of 1890 band organ music and a space-age electronic music synthesizer.

Special recognition of America’s accomplishments in many fields includes dancing telephones, gigantic ice cream sundaes, stylized steamboats, airplanes plus television sets and record players as big as a house.

Finale of the parade is performed under five giant gas-filled balloons by hundreds of visiting high school and college bands from across the nation. Each week, beginning in July, a different state will be specifically featured in the parade. The State Salutes will be staged in order of admission to the Union.

Leading each parade is a Disney re-enactment of the “Spirit of ‘76” featuring three of America’s favorite performers, Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck.

Other Bicentennial features at Walt Disney World between now and the end of summer, 1976, include complimentary admission to the impressive Hall of Presidents where the 186-year old history of the American Presidency is re-created in life-like realism.

A special Bicentennial edition of “America the Beautiful” is another complimentary attraction featured during the year-long celebration. It is presented by Monsanto in the CircleVision 360 theater where historic scenes surround the audience.

The Walt Disney World celebration also will give visitors an opportunity to experience such exciting new attractions as Space Mountain, the whirling thrill of the new StarJets, a re-created “Mission to Mars” and the soon to be completed “PeopleMover” where unique magnetic powered trains will carry guests on a super-smooth tour of Tomorrowland.

During the Summer season and at other holiday periods, “America On Parade” will be presented twice daily at Walt Disney World at 3 and 9 p.m. with spectacular red, white and blue fireworks following each nighttime performance.

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom will be open every day during the summer (from June 7 through August 30) from 9a.m. to 1a.m. Off-season hours are 9a.m. to 7p.m.

Recreation and entertainment accommodations in the Contemporary, Polynesian and Golf Resort hotels, Ft. Wilderness Campgrounds and in the entertaining new Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village are open every day and evening throughout the year.

30 June 2015

Memorable Moments from United States History

Everyone get through yesterday’s required reading of America on Parade? Great! Today’ let us present you with the entire fact sheet Disney released on the presentation. There’s a lot to gleam from this document, not just the dates and concept for the parade, but the actual full breakdown of individual characters, floats, and musical accompaniment. But that’s enough chatter about it, let’s start the parade of information.

29 June 2015

The Celebration of Independence

We’ve talked quite a bit about America on Parade throughout the years, but we’re dedicating the entire week leading up to the Fourth of July to Disney’s Bicentennial celebration. Fact sheets, musical history, and even vintage press releases are all coming up later in the week. Before we get going, and to set the stage appropriately, let’s take a look back at previous articles.

A dazzling, fun-filled pageant – Our original look at what comprised America on Parade.

People of America – Examining the unique doll-inspired figures from the parade.

The whole story of America – An exploration of the Little Golden Book featuring Donald Duck’s viewing of the parade.

Historical Proudly Uproarical Fourth – A pair of glimpses into the parade itself.

New tags on the way – Even Cast Members had special nametags to celebrate the event.

25 June 2015

Patriot's Punch Bowl

Independence Day is next weekend. There will be parades, fireworks, friends and family in the back yard, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, and maybe even an adult beverage or two. While you’re planning out your menu for the Fourth of July backyard barbeque you’ll likely get stuck on the question of how to spice up the children’s beverage selection? Let’s head over to Liberty Tree Tavern for a suggestion.

Sitting in the shadow of the Liberty Tree herself, the Liberty Tree Tavern has always had a specialty drink fit for the pint-sized patriotic sippers, or those just looking to try something a bit different than the usual Magic Kingdom beverage selection. The current version is known as Patriot’s Punch and mixes a couple of citrus flavors together, but let’s go a bit further back. For our homemade brew from the Liberty Tree Tavern, we’ve ventured down the Freedom Trail back to when I was a kid and I couldn’t wait to order the Tavern Lemon Sherbet Punch.

It is as simple to put together as the name suggests, so let’s dig in to the recipe!



Juice from 4 Lemons
2 Quarts Club Soda
2 Quarts Lemon Sherbet


Place lemon juice, club soda, and lemon sherbet in a blender and blend until smooth.
Serve over ice.
Garnish with fresh strawberries.

Like I said, simple right?

I do have a couple of notes from the preparation. First off, this will make a gallon punch. I attempted a half batch, but even that was a stretch to fit in my blender. It also starts separating fairly quickly. With those two things in mind, I would recommend making this in quarter batches and serving as needed.

Otherwise this was an easy and straightforward preparation that took mere minutes to complete. With appropriate supervision you could even let the kids take part in putting it all together. Juicing the lemons, measuring out ingredients, and getting to push the magic blending button (only after they’ve been told to) are all easy ways to give kids a sense of accomplishment and it’ll even make the drink taste better to them!

On the taste note, it really is delicious. It isn’t nearly as sweet as you would think a punch would be. It comes across as more of a frosted lemonade that is a little bitter with a touch of sweetness. The strawberries add some nice accent color, texture, and vary up the flavors just a bit.

The punch would cut through the saltiness of potato chips and hot dogs easily, and will definitely leave patriots young and old asking for seconds. I hope you take a few minutes to throw together a batch of the Tavern Lemon Sherbet Punch. It’s a blast from the Liberty Tree Tavern's past, in the best way possible!

24 June 2015

Watch Out for Goofy

Goofy has a long history of playing in the water at Walt Disney World. One of his first watery endeavors were the water-skiing shows on the Seven Seas Lagoon, but that ended up only be a part-time gig until he found a permanent home in the waters of Bay Cove. When River County opened in June of 1976, Goofy was front and center to welcome guests.

In the early years, Goofy could be seen taking a plunge down Whoop ‘N Holler Hollow, in his full-length, one-piece swimsuit that harkened back to fashionable swimwear of an earlier age. There were times when he was accompanied in the swimmin’ hole by Chip, Dale, and Disney’s other playful pup, Pluto.

As the park entered into its second decade of operation, Walt Disney World had two other behemoth water parks that were entice guests away from the original water park, River County. Rumors began to swirl that the gator icon of Blizzard Beach, Ice Gator, had become such a hit that the other water parks should follow suit. While Typhoon Lagoon would get a gator of its very own, Goofy would hold the fort down over at River Country until the park closed for good.

That isn’t to say that River Country didn’t find creative ways to get guests through the gates. In the 1990s the park launched the All-American Water Party headlined by, you guessed it, Goofy. His days of actually plunging into the water were over, but Goofy always knew how to make an entrance. Typically he would arrived via some sort of watercraft or on horseback. His All-American duds included jeans, a flannel shirt, and a stovepipe hat in an American flag motif. The party included giveaways, games, and a whole lot of feet stomping music from the live band, complete with banjo. Of course, a party isn’t a party without guests, and Chip, Dale, Pluto, and even Minnie were regular fixtures. One of the more rare characters in the Vacation Kingdom stables even made an appearance, I’m talking about Goofy’s son, Max, of course.

These days Goofy’s trademark skills in and around the waterways of Walt Disney World have mostly fallen by the wayside as he has become more recognizable as the Great Goofini, a high-flying ace with a penchant for daredevil stunts that always seem to go awry. Whatever your feelings on River Country or Goofy, I’m almost willing to bet you can’t think back on Disney’s first water park without it conjuring up a memory or two of Goofy.

18 June 2015

The Convenience of Travelers

This may be one of those articles where you shake your head and try to figure out why I would have even bothered to take this photo. I’m never entirely sure myself, but let’s start with setting the scene today, shall we. This sign is affixed to one of the pillars outside of the restrooms in Harambe. You know the building, right? It is the one that is listed as the Port Authority.

Any guest of Disney’s Animal Kingdom can tell you that this main thoroughfare of Africa can get pretty congested in the blink of an eye. It is definitely an area in need of a sign that proclaims “NO PARKING,” in big bold letters. What really drew me in, however, was the Swahili text beneath. Always wondering how messages are presented in other cultures I was immediately interested to find out what, precisely, “Hapana Kuweka Magari” meant. Depending on who you get your translation from there is a little variation, but the long and short of it is “No Set Vehicles.” Basically, “No Parking,” got it!

Of course there aren’t a lot of automobiles coming through this area, but the parking and vehicles that they are worried about aren’t mopeds, motorcycles, or cars taking up prime real estate in the heart of Harambe. What they are concerned about is taking a congested area and gumming up the works with strollers being left unattended while other guests try to shimmy through the maze of child-sized transport vehicles. So, the next time you need to stop off at the Port Authority, just remember, “HAPANA KUWEKA MAGARI!”

16 June 2015

The Cup That Will Transport You - Part V

We've reached the final set of the take home Walt Disney World coffee blends from Joffrey's. It's been a lot of pots of coffee, but I hope you've enjoyed the series as much as we've enjoyed putting it together for you. Hopefully you've been inclined to grab a bag of Joffrey's for yourself and feel like you were relaxing on vacation, even if you were just tucked away on your own porch reliving fond memories. Let's get this show on the road turn it over to the missus one last time. Aileen Sheehan-Wilson, take it away!

Flying Fish (Dark) – Watch out for flying fish. Seriously. You never know what you'll see in the show kitchen off this energetic eatery where fresh seafood is the star. But it's the caramelized banana napoleon on the dessert menu that really caught our attention. So we dark roasted a Viennese-style blend of 100% Specialty Grade Arabica Beans with a wonderfully smooth caramel profile and smoky overtones to go with it. Clean and pleasant to the finish, it has very good acidity for a dark roast. It's a delicious choice for brewing conventionally or as an Espresso.

What Aileen Tastes:
We have another dark roast. At this point, we all know that I enjoyed drinking it but I would like to go on record stating that it was less bitter than some of the other dark roasts that I have sampled. I agreed with tasting notes and definitely got both the smooth caramel and smoky undertones in my taste test. I believe this would be a great coffee for someone who thinks that they hate dark roasts. It was smooth and not the least bit overpowering. This is a coffee I would consider ordering again. 

Narcoossee's (Dark) – We literally circumnavigated the globe to find the 100% Specialty Grade Arabica Beans to blend for Narcoossee’s, a spectacular seafood restaurant you’ll discover just off the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon. A rich dark roast from Central America. Lively citrus notes from Africa. And a silky smooth bean all the way from Indonesia. Its aroma begs to be carried on an ocean breeze. And the long, lingering finish is ready-made for the almond-crusted cheesecake with Lambert cherry sauce.

What Aileen Tastes:
This roast was my least favorite of the bunch but I still would recommend it to others. This dark roast was bright and citrusy and I believe it would pair well with seafood. This is a positive since it is served at one of the best seafood restaurants on Disney property. I didn’t love this as my morning coffee, but would enjoy it at the end of a meal with a light, fruity dessert.

Victoria & Albert's (Full) – “Something rare.” That was our answer to the question, “What coffee could possibly live up to the standards set by Victoria & Albert’s?” After all, this is no ordinary restaurant. It’s received the AAA Five Diamond Award® every year since 2000. Its exclusive Chef’s Table has hosted royalty. Its menu, that is American cuisine with classic influences, changes often and is inspired by the freshest seasonal ingredients on the global market. So we worked closely with the chefs to select a single-origin coffee just as rare: beans from Celebes, now called Sulawesi, a remote Indonesian island, that produces a coffee that is quite unique in its rich chocolate and nutty overtones. Brewed at the table using the centuries-old siphon method, it’s not the finish to the Victoria & Albert’s experience, but an integral part of it.

What Aileen Tastes:
This roast is a single-origin bean from an Indonesian Island called Sulawesi (formally Celebes) and at Victoria & Albert’s this coffee is brewed table side using the siphon method. Unfortunately, I only had my regular coffee maker for my taste test, but I will say that I enjoyed drinking it and felt that it has a smooth character that pairs well with any meal. It holds a strong place in the middle of the pack for me.

Today’s Cup of Disney Rankings:
1 – Flying Fish
2 – Victoria & Albert's
3 – Narcoossee's

Overall Cup of Disney Rankings:
1 – French Bistro
2 – California Grill
3 – Flying Fish Espresso
4 – Flying Fish
5 – Yachtsman Steakhouse
6 – Kona Blend
7 – Citricos
8 – Victoria & Albert's
9 – Narcoossee's
10 – Tusker House
11 – Jiko
12 – Artist Point
13 – Flavors of Africa
14 – Hollywood Blend
15 – The Wave

Previous Reviews: