28 February 2010

Disney This Week - 28 February 2010

Disney This Week - 28 February 2010
Ryan P. Wilson

My favorite event among the gigantic list of special events found in Walt Disney World has always been Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival. In fact, this festival is one of the reasons I always stage my annual research trip in the spring. This, Amanda Tinney took her Disney Every Day readers on a tour of this year’s highlights as they are currently being set up in preparation for the festival’s opening.

Normally, we here at the Main Street Gazette try to focus on Walt Disney World rather than the original park in California. This week, however, there were a trio of articles that caught my attention. First up, Tonyomagic! presented us with a thorough history of Captain EO within Disneyland over at Meet the World. Meanwhile, Dave, along with the readers of Daveland, were treated to a tour of Nature’s Wonderland, then and now. And, finally, Mike, the former-yet-forever Skipper of Jungle is “101,” explores the finer points of the dunking tradition on a Skipper’s last day on the river.

On the media side of Disney, Paul F. Anderson took some time this week on the Disney History Institute to showcase James Mason, otherwise known as Captain Nemo, and his memories of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

I am as psyched as anyone for this year’s release of TRON: Legacy. The viral events (and wishing one would come to Asheville) have only made the anticipation more painful. This week, the Pitcell chase gave us a new image from the world of TRON and an event that featured a new teaser. You can read a review and breakdown of the event/trailer, written by Craig Grobler, over at The Establishing Shot.

The Progress City Radio Hour, a new podcast by the incredible Progress City U.S.A. duo, has just been launched. You should definitely be listening, and if you need further convincing just stop by Imaginerding, where George Taylor has a full review of the show.

From time to time we all wonder what we are doing, continually feeding our hunger for all things Disney. This lack of drive is inevitable, but over at WDW Central, Matt Correia show us all just how easy it is to renew our passion for Disney.

As many of us know, there are plenty of gears behind the ears of Walt Disney World. Last week, Tim Weston took The Daily Mickey to Jason Lovelace’s discussion, The Engineering Behind to Magic, which delved into how Disney keeps things running like clockwork.

It never seems to fail, somewhere in the middle of my week someone is going to make me homesick for Walt Disney World by talking about the food available there. This week, two lovely ladies were the culprits. First, The Disney Chick served up some homemade Curry Butternut Soup from Boma, which is, perhaps, my favorite soup found at Walt Disney World. Then, as a reminder that for every hamburger there is absolutely stunning foodie faire to be had elsewhere, AJ showcased another fine meal from the Contemporary’s California Grill over at The Disney Food Blog.

26 February 2010

Heritage and Canada

Heritage and Canada
Ryan P. Wilson

The Canada Pavilion in World Showcase has always had a totem pole, as you can see on the far left of this 1982 postcard.
Just one totem pole, however, was not enough for the pavilion and, in 1998, another totem pole was planned as an addition. Unlike the magical Christmas trees around Walt Disney World, this carving wasn’t just assembled and placed on stage in the Canada Pavilion overnight. Instead, Imagineers brought in artist David Boxley to create the totem onstage in front of guests. Guests were not only able to watch this breathtaking piece take form, but they were able to learn about the specifics of the art form, its traditions, and the totems’ history.

25 February 2010

Coach service east

Coach service east
Ryan P. Wilson

America, from its pre-Revolutionary times through today, has continually and drastically changed its architectural styles. In order to see the radical transition you could start in the Hudson River Valley and drive across the country, following the trails blazed by the pioneers. Or, you could watch the slow transition in the build design from Liberty Square’s Haunted Mansion all the way into Frontierland and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

For my eye, however, there is no simpler and beautiful designs than those on the south-side of the street rambling from Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe to the Liberty Tree Tavern. This section of the route allows guest to travel back in time and from the Old West to the spirited East.

24 February 2010

Daddy's Gumbo

Daddy's Gumbo
Ryan P. Wilson

We have visited the Animation Gallery in Disney’s Hollywood Studios before. Usually we are in the market for concept art and models, character biographies, and a glimpse into upcoming or recently released feature films, and are given more movie eye candy than is good for us. This time, however, we’re looking down into the production desks where art is not only created for sale in the parks, but there are also glimpses into research materials and crafted props.

Looking through the stacks of staged materials left strewn about on the tables in preparation for The Princess and the Frog, guest are given some tasty morsels to consider, including a copy of Auguste Gusteau’s Anyone Can Cook from Ratatouille. Closer to the flavors of New Orleans, we see a lot of recipes for Gumbo and waffles. One of the most visible recipes states it is for Daddy’s Gumbo, although looking through the ingredients and directions the recipe is definitely for waffles. Looking for some starchy goodness that is great with any meal of the day, try these waffles (aka Daddy’s Gumbo) on your taste buds!


2 Cups Flour
4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 ¾ Cups Milk
2 Eggs (separate white from yolk)
4 Tablespoons Jellied Shortening
1 Teaspoon Sugar


Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.
Beat egg yolks, add milk, add to flour and beat thoroughly.
Add shortening, then mix in beaten egg whites.
Allow to stand for 15 minutes.
Bake in hot waffle iron until brown.
Serve with butter and syrup (Maple or Golden) or honey.

23 February 2010

Before the days of biometrics

Before the days of biometrics
Tony Caggiano

During a recent WDW Radio Show our own Ryan P. Wilson joined Lou Mongello on a trip back in time to 1986. During their journey the topic of annual passes came up, notably the older passes from back on the late 80’s and early 90’s. Back in those days, in a time before Disney’s implementation of the biometric finger scan, which measures the size and shape of the guests’ fingertip, annual passholders would actually have to go and have their photo taken in order to obtain their passes. These photos were then cut out, and glued onto the back of your annual pass. The idea was to make it difficult for people to illegally use the passes of others.

As a long time annual passholder, somewhere in the neighborhood of around 20 years or so, I was lucky enough to have possessed one of these vintage photo bearing annuals. As a Disney Geek, I have kept every annual pass that I have ever had. And, at the risk of exposing myself to the ridicule of my friends, I thought it would be fun to post a photo of one of these passes.This is my 1993 Annual Pass, in all its glory. I keep items like this, not only as a record of the Walt Disney World gone by, but also for the incredible memories they bring back to me every time I look at them. I remember the day I bought this very pass. It was at guest services over at Disney-MGM Studios. It was the first of several great vacations to be had during this passes “lifetime.”

While I understand that, as technology progresses there will be changes, I still miss the photo annual passes. I enjoy looking back at them, like a snapshot in time, to a day when I was not worried about anything other than the good times that were out there waiting for me and my new annual pass.

22 February 2010

The Family I never knew I had…

The Family I never knew I had…
Tony Caggiano

While this topic may be a departure from the normal fare for a typical Monday here at the Gazette, I felt that it was something I really wanted to talk about, if only for a few minutes. The Topic I am speaking of is the very community that you and I are all a part of, this Disney Community, namely the Online Community.

I can hardly believe that just a little over a year ago I had no idea that it even existed. I sat in my little “bubble” thinking that I was really alone in my passion and love of all things Disney. Now, I fully realize that Disney has a huge fan base, but I never thought about how personal it all is and how there could be sure incredible ties between others and myself who felt the same way about these things that I hold so dear to my heart.As many, if not all, of you know, I have long been a fan of and a visitor to, Walt Disney World. Growing up I knew a few others who had visited The World, but certainly no one who went as often as my family did. I know I was lucky to have parents who made these trips possible for us, but just assumed that since I had never met anyone else who did this sort of thing, that I was among the “few and far between” ranks of Disney World fans…OH WAS I WRONG!!!

Just about a year and a half ago, through the purchase of a new iPod, I stumbled upon a few Disney Podcasts, with that discovery…it was ON. It quickly snowballed into more than a dozen podcasts, a dozen more websites and endless blogs. While this was all a lot of fun, the whole thing really became “real” when I visited a WDW Radio Meet of the Month, which was held by Lou Mongello. I met a lot of great people at that meet, some I had spoken with online once or twice and others I had never met before. I had an amazing time that day, for the first time in my life I had met others who truly had the same interests and passions that I have possessed since I was a little boy.

Once again I found myself a part of the “snowball” effect. That little meet led to more time talking online with my new friends and wanting to very much be a part of it all. My wife, Charlene and I volunteered to help out at “Wrapping Weekend” at Pat Whitson’s house, preparing baskets for the Dream Team Project Auction which is held every year at Magic Meets Fan Gatherings in Pennsylvania…that was the moment at which many of these online acquaintances quickly skipped 5 levels of friendship and became a second family to me.From there we went on to Magic Meets, where we spent the weekend becoming closer and learning more about one another and so on and so on. I could really talk for hours about how this all came about and how each of these people went from being friends online to being friends in my heart.

Since then, I have been luck enough to make several trips to Walt Disney World, during which I spent time with this new family while also meeting many new faces and welcoming many more new friends into my life. I have also been blessed enough to have been invited to join some of these friends for trips and weekends away, even outside of the “Disney Spectrum”, just great friends, spending great times together.

The purpose of this article was not intended to tell my “life story” in the Disney Online Community, but instead to offer some real PERSPECTIVE on what this all means to me.

The past few months have been busy ones for many of us who call this community home. Some have lost family members, some have gained them, some have fallen on hard times and others have been there to help. Through all of these times, I feel like my love for my friends has grown exponentially. It seems like so many people I did not even know existed a year ago have staked their claim in my heart and my life and for this I am truly grateful.This is the meaning of Community for me, and for those out there who are looking in on the goings on here, I offer an invitation to come in and get to know everyone. There are so many wonderful people in my newfound family, people who will be there for years to come.

To Ryan, Lori, Lou, Deanna, Pat, Bryan, Beci, Ray, Glenn, Greg, April, Fred, Mike, Mary Jo, Val, Steve, Tracy and so many more that I could go on forever, as well as the new friends who I may not have met yet, but are out there waiting…I thank YOU for giving ME a bit of Perspective on what this all means.

I look forward to more good times ahead, because that is what the real meaning of the Disney Community is to me.

21 February 2010

Disney This Week - 21 February 2010

Disney This Week - 21 February 2010
Ryan P. Wilson

Katie Siloac, of thedvclife, discusses Disney’s best kept secret, and weighs in on whether or not it is a secret at all.

A pleasure I am not sure I’ll ever be able to undertake, Sam Gennawey took readers of his SamLand’s Disney Adventures along with him on his D23 Tour of Archives and Studios. You can read his first thoughts and his longer editorial.

Lee Cockerell, a former Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World, gives us a glimpse into the ways that Cast Members are celebrated and how they can celebrate and create magic amongst themselves without going broke.

I don’t have a ton of time to watch television these days, but one show I love to catch is Dinner: Impossible. Chef Robert Irvine was at Walt Disney World last week and Zanna, who calls ZannaLand home, has a personal encounter with the chef, while AJ and the Disney Food Blog give us an insiders look into the meal his team prepared.

We all have, at one time or another, had a Disney crush and for young boys Mary Poppins has often filled that role. However, while she may not have tugged on Greg Grimsley’s heartstrings, the film itself has opened up a world of opportunities to The Disney Obsession’s scribe.

There has been a lot of talk in recent months about Tim Burton’s return to Disney. Michael Crawford uncovers some great promotional and photographical documentation of one of my favorite shorts of all time, Vincent, over at Progress City U.S.A.

Longtime Gazette readers are well aware of my love affair with the art of Christi Bunn. This week on My Disney Sketches she unveiled the work she is doing on a Japan collage. Now, who is going to order me one of these and a France collage to add to my walls?

There has been quite a bit of news on the Vinylmation front this week, starting with VinylNation’s look at Mardi Gras Vinylmation that will be in the next Holiday set. For me though, nothing trumped Steven Miller's, of the Disney Parks Blog, explanation of the design of the Muppet Vinylmations packaging, which is inspired by the MuppetVision 3D queue in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Many Disney enthusiasts lament the loss of attractions like 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas or Horizons, but this week Lou Mongello explored the original Imagination Pavilion. Visitors to WDW Radio could, if briefly, remember what it was like to explore the earliest incarnation of the ImageWorks.

Weather vanes are some of the most overlooked, but beautiful details found in the Disney parks. This week, Princess Fee, and the readers of DF’82, showcased the weather vanes of Disneyland Paris’ Adventureland.

Finally, George Taylor opened up a discussion on Imaginerding as to what, exactly, is the best method to store Disney ephemera. I like the find George made, but what are your storage methods?

19 February 2010

The sacred stream

The sacred stream
Ryan P. Wilson

Silver Creek is the name given to the meandering water feature that begins in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge’s lobby and ends down along the shores of Bay Lake. Along the path Silver Creek takes the form of a hot spring, which can be viewed in the lobby, a quiet stream where guests can relax, a cascade of whitewater known as Silver Creek Falls, a swimming area referred to as Silver Creek Springs, and, finally, Fire Rock Geyser.

Obviously, the water that bubbles in the lobby’s hot spring is not the same water that guests swim in downstream in Silver Creek Springs. The effect is reached by segmenting Silver Creek into sections that can be separately control for the amount of water and the speed at which it travels. The majority of these sections are created by the most obvious, and often overlooked, partition: the bridges that crisscross the waterway. Beneath these bridges water spills down to be reclaimed and new water begins the next leg of Silver Creek’s ambling.

After passing over waterfalls and through the Silver Creek Springs pool area Silver Creek finally finds its way to the rich pools and vivid rocks of Fire Rock Geyser. While the geyser may not have quite the same head of steam as the timely spouter it is modeled after, Old Faithful, Fire Rock Geyser does have a terrific Imagineered backstory.

According to the legend, Native American hunting parties used the warm waters near the hot springs for fishing and heat during frigid winter treks. During a particularly vicious journey, the hunting party was forced to not only set up camp for several days, but also to keep their fire burning continuously, a situation they considered to be very wasteful. Five days on, the ground began to rumble and fissures were created. On the sixth day, the crevices became larger, and the trembling became more volatile. Believing that they had enraged the Earth, the hunting party met to discuss the idea of beginning the treacherous voyage home or stay in the camp. Resolved to stay, another log was added to the fire. Suddenly, the trembling became a violent shudder. As the group fled from their teepee, the cracks burst open with a great spout of water. By the time the column of water subsided, the fire had been extinguished, the teepee had been destroyed, and the hunting party was no where to be found. So was born Fire Rock Geyser.

18 February 2010

Ultra funny approved

Ultra funny approved
Ryan P. Wilson

The Muppets are not in show business, they are in the funny business. Unfortunately, just like every business, the Muppets have to contend with the rise and fall of consumer confidence. On occasion, they have had to look for other jobs, reinvent themselves, or go into a totally different line of work. Some of their more popular classifieds can be seen along the exit ramp from the MuppetVision 3-D theater.
The Joke’s on Me!
Fozzie Bear
Your Full-Service Funny Bear
His punchlines are punchier!
Ultra Funny Approved
No Joking! I Need A Job!
Call today and we’ll throw in a free rubber chicken!
Specializing in Slapstick, Window Cleaning and other odd jobs.

Frankie’s Formalwear
We make your special events specialer
“More Tux For Less Bucks”
Larger Formalwear for the Hard-To-Fit
Small Formalwear for the Hard-To-Find
Loud Formalwear for the Hard-To-Hear
Weird Formalwear for the Hard-To-Believe
Our Guarantee: “If you find formalwear that’s cheaper than ours, good for you!”

The Ricky Rat Show
Live! On Stage! In Person!
Ricky Sez: “Remember, Star spelled backward is Rats!”
As Seen On T.V.!
Ricky Sings All-Time Favorites: The Pest is Yet to Come, Rats Entertainment, When A Man Loves A Vermin!
Ricky Performs All-Time Classics: How the Pest Was Won, Rat On A Hot Tin Roof, Tail of Two Cities
Limited Engagement! Extended Third Big Month
For Tickets, Call 1-800-555-RATS

Gig Wanted!
Music For All Occasions!
Toe-Tapping! Hand-Clapping!
Ear-Slapping Tunes!
No Gig Too Big!
No Ball Too Small!
The Electric Mayhem

17 February 2010

A 16th-century Japanese tea house

A 16th-century Japanese tea house
Ryan P. Wilson

There are a plethora of dining establishments, both counter and table service, throughout World Showcase. There are the big names that always have a full house and lines out the doors, such as Le Cellier or Boulangerie Patisserie, but sometimes an off-the-beaten-path semi-quiet place to partake in a different dining experience is just what guests are craving. Along the promenade there is no port more out of the way with fresh fare than Japan’s Yakitori House.

Situated high on a hill, overlooking temples, castles, gardens, and ponds sits Yakitori House. With a garden and water feature gurgling in the back of the restaurant, there is not a more tranquil spot to dine and rest in the cool shade away from the throngs of other guests. While the name Yakitori implies a small establishment where skewers filled with bits of chicken are grilled, usually over charcoal, the menu in this house skips the skewers for a variety of other Japanese dishes.

For starters, while the traditional beverages are available, Yakitori House also offers hot and iced green teas, hot sake, Japanese beers, and plum wine. Turning to the opening salvo of salads and sides, the typical miso soup and side salad with ginger dressing are available in addition to the full-sized Chicken Ginger Salad. Entrees include a small variety of sushi rolls, teriyaki chicken, sukiyaki, udon bowls, curry, and combinations that include various selections of the above items.

During the frigid weather that surrounded Marathon Weekend this year, my wife and I chose to partake in some of the steaming bowls of udon. She decided upon the Japanese Curry Udon, while my palate was craving the Beef Udon. The Japanese Curry Udon, served with a variety of vegetables, chunks of beef, and a curry was spicy enough to activate the sweat glands, but in a good I-don’t-need-to-dive-into-my-glass-of-tea way. More in line with a spicy soup than a typical curry dish, the dish was a pure palate pleaser. Meanwhile, my own Beef Udon combined a savory broth with thin strips of beef and green onion that, when couple with the hearty udon noodles created a savory yet sweet bowl that I happily devoured.

While we shied away from dessert, saving that for a trip down the promenade to France, I would have to say that the ginger cake, named for the spicy-sweet ginger icing, was almost enough to tempt me away from my beloved Patisserie.

Guests familiar with Japanese restaurants or utility sushi can put together a meal at Yakitori House that is at once foreign, and yet something that they are comfortable with. There are a few items off the typical Japanese menu for the brave of heart, but nothing too adventurous for the newly christened foodies. The real joy of dining at Yakitori House comes from a simple meal in a calming environment. To be able to step away from the hustle and bustle of a typical tour through Walt Disney World, that is a tremendous treat that Yakitori House offers free of charge.

16 February 2010

The Monorail that Never Was

The Monorail that Never Was
Tony Caggiano

So many times, here on The WED Page, I have spoken about attractions, shows and resorts that never came into being. Last week I came across a photograph of a model, which was included in brochures in, and around, 1977.The photo depicts the Walt Disney World’s monorail system extension, to what was then known as Lake Buena Vista Village. While Imagineers originally planned to have a monorail loop running from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the shopping village around Lake Buena Vista, the idea never became a reality. The only information I could find on why this never came into being states that it was cost prohibitive to do so.

I am a huge fan of the monorail. As children, it was as big of an attraction to my brothers and I as anything offered in the parks. I can only imagine how wonderful it would have been to take the long ride to Downtown Disney today.

15 February 2010

Something for the little guys…

Something for the little guys…
Tony Caggiano

Allow me to preface this article by saying, I love the Disney Princesses. I have long been a fan of princess films and Cinderella is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest Disney films ever made. I appreciate the fact that Snow White is the film that started it all, before that, seven minutes was about as long as anyone dared to entertain with the use of animation. I could go on and on about the Disney Princesses, after all, who doesn’t love them all?

Now, as a Dad to two little boys, I have noticed that the much anticipated expansion of Fantasyland focuses quite heavily on Princesses, and as such, seems to be aimed, primarily, at an audience comprised of little girls. I am looking forward to seeing what the new and improved Fantasyland has in store for us, but today I wanted to focus our attention on just what there is at Walt Disney World for the little guys to enjoy.

For just about every offering aimed at little girls, I have been able to find a “counter offer” of sorts for the little boys. Cinderella’s Royal Table may be the toughest character meal ticket in town, but if you are dining with some young lads, I would suggest giving a meal like Chef Mickey’s a try. The Fab 5, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto (if you weren’t already aware), are your hosts for this fun filled adventure. While everyone enjoys them, little boys in your group will have the meal of their lifetime in their presence.

Another character meal, breakfast in this particular situation, which is really enjoyed by young boys, is held every morning over at ‘Ohana. The Lilo and Stitch Best Friends character breakfast is always a favorite with my boys, Stitch’s visits to our table have always resulted in lots of giggles and fantastic photo opportunities.

If stopping by Ariel’s Grotto for pictures with the Little Mermaid doesn’t garner the excitement of the young men in your party, a wonderful photo op alternative is to stop by Disney’s Hollywood Studios to meet Lightning McQueen and Mater over near the entrance to Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show. The toughest thing about our visit to the stars of the Pixar film Cars, was trying to explain to my 18-month-old son, Dylan, that he would have to wait in line for his turn to meet his heroes. A nice bonus is that there is rarely a very long line to meet them. While a meeting with Tinkerbell and her Fairy friends can often be accompanied by up to an hour wait, meeting these two lugnuts can usually be accomplished with less than ten minutes in a queue.

One of the biggest girl-centric offerings of the past few years has been the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Even before I had children of my own I would marvel at the smiles of the little girls who were walking around the parks after their princess makeovers, they were on cloud nine. Last year, I was thrilled to see that Disney was responding to the popularity of the BBB with a new adventure for everyone, little boys in particular, The Pirates League. I look forward to my little guys’ first trip to join in the fun over there this June.

These are just a few of the many things to do with the little guys in your family. So, if you are the parent of little boys, you can actually take heart in knowing that there are some wonderful things to do with them, just as you can with your little girls, and often with less than half the wait.

14 February 2010

Disney This Week - 14 February 2010

Disney This Week - 14 February 2010
Ryan P. Wilson

We’re going to start this week with a guest blogger, Amanda Tinney created a beautiful write up of the Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room over at i.seeKissimmee. Meanwhile, back at her homepage, Disney Every Day, we are treated to a photo tour of the inspirational words found within The American Adventure’s Rotunda.

If I have said it once, I have said it a million times, the key to enjoying Walt Disney World lies in guests’ ability to slow down. Tokyomagic!, over at Meet the World, presents us with the history of one of my favorite ways to slow down, the Rivers of America’s riverboats.

Most Disney enthusiasts won’t remember the 4’10” robotic ambassador of Future World, but George Taylor brought a wealth of memories back to me this week when Imaginerding reintroduced readers to GYRO.

futureprobe and its editorials on Epcot, then and now, often speak to what the masses are thinking. Looking at the history of computers and Epcot, Future Guy reminds us that technology, and our understanding of it, have come a long way.

Shawn Slater has a knack for presenting various design elements and stories from around Walt Disney World in a manageable and fascinating light. This week, he takes his DisneyShawn readers back to the Magic Kingdom’s first decade and the era of the ticket booths.

Growing up, there were two videos that I had to rent on almost every trip to the video store, Yellowstone Cubs and The Black Hole. So, when Eric Ditzian, of MTV Movies Blog, revealed a few tidbits about the upcoming remake of the Black Hole courtesy of TRON: Legacy director, Joseph Kosinski, I was more than a little excited.

As if I wasn’t saddened enough by the fact that I had no way to get to Florida for the Walt Disney World media event this past week, and only became more ill at the situation as so many wonderful experiences took shape, this little article by AJ put me over the top. Dinner: Impossible came to Walt Disney World, and I missed it! I cannot wait to see the Disney Food Blog article highlighting the food and the episode itself later this spring.

While I have yet to experience this Parc Disneyland, Paris dining establishment, recommended by Princess Fee, the delicious and delightful descriptions of Restaurant Hakuna Matata presented on DF’82 make it a dining destination I am sure to hit,… whenever I actually get to Parc Disneyland…

13 February 2010

A whole new world

A whole new world
Ryan P. Wilson

It may be too late to get that reservation for Bistro de Paris or Le Cellier for Valentine’s Day, however, in keeping with the spirit of the day the Gazette Roundtable assembled some of their most romantic ideas. From fireworks and France to twilight walks and sandy beaches, here are just a few ways to maximize your starry-eyed evenings.

Roundtable Topic: When you think of the word romance, in relation to Walt Disney World, what comes to mind?
Roundtable Guests: Eric Hoffman (Netmongrel), Lori Burke (We Wants the Redhead), Chris Fore (Yet Another Disney Blog), Matthew Sedlar (The geekTicket and Hitchhiking Ghosts), and myself.
Eric – Walt Disney World holds a special place in my heart first and foremost because it was the location of our honeymoon. That trip marked the beginning of a mutual passion for and love of Walt Disney World that my wife and I share. Now we vacation with there with our 3 girls and they naturally share that same passion and love with us.

When it comes to spots in WDW that help set that romantic mood I immediately think of two locations. The first is the France Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. Right as dusk falls the crowds seem to be a little more hushed as you approach the pavilion from across the International Gateway. The lights are coming on outside Les Chefs de France and the sound of the fountains invite you to stroll down into the beautiful pavilion to enjoy a quiet, out of the way spot to sit with a loved one and enjoy a beverage and treat together.

The other spot I find romantic is the front entrance of Cinderella’s castle at night, preferably after closing when the bulk of the crowd has left. The view down Main Street USA and the ambient lighting from the castle itself create an otherworldly atmosphere. It is just the right spot to steal a little kiss from my beloved princess!

Matthew – As someone who spent a portion of his honeymoon at Walt Disney World, I've thought about this a lot. A nice stroll along the BoardWalk or a boat ride from Epcot to Hollywood Studios or vice versa (sitting outside) can be romantic. World Showcase also has some great spots and restaurants. A quick shout out to the West Coast: A water-side table at Blue Bayou can be really romantic, as long as you can put up with the occasional tourist on POTC shouting, "Are those people real?"

Chris – So many things come to mind. World Showcase at night (especially France and its environs). A twilight trip on the Sassagoula River from New Orleans to Downtown Disney. An evening at the Grand Floridian, taking in the soft jazz and piano music in the lobby, an intimate dinner (at V&A if budget and circumstances permit), and a quiet spot to take in the Magic Kingdom fireworks. The Wedding Pavilion. But most of all, for me romance at Walt Disney World is a state of mind. It's a willingness to slow down, take in your surroundings, and make some of your own magic.

Lori – When I think of romance at Walt Disney World I don't think of an attraction, a stage show, a resturant or even a boat ride. I think about Wishes! For me, the most romantic thing to do is to stand in front of Cinderella Castle, just off to either side of the Partners statue and watch Wishes! There is something about standing there, in the arms of the one I love, enjoying the fireworks and listening to the music. The crowd seems to disappear and it's just us.

Ryan – Romance can be found just about anywhere you look in Walt Disney World, on one occasion I even turned Splash Mountain into a heart-swelling cruise (but that’s a story for a different day). A lot of finding the romantic nooks around the parks and resorts has to do with your own personal attitude and the outlook of the loved one you are with.

Strolling along World Showcase Promenade, hand-in-hand down the BoardWalk, or even snuggling in close as the monorail creeps around the Seven Seas Lagoon are all small and significant ways to set a romantic mood. However, for an experience that will truly set your heart flying, I recommend Characters in Flight, particularly during the hours of twilight and nighttime. While sunsets may be the hallmark of an evening of adoration, taking to the skies when the sparkling stars above match the twinkling lights below sparkle for sparkle, not to mention the ability to hold onto one another to admire the view, is enough to make even the stodgiest of hearts skip a beat.

Looking for more romance in Walt Disey World? Be sure to check out this week's episode of All About the Mouse, where Tony, along with Bryan Ripper and Matt Hochberg, discuss where Walt Disney World and love intersect.

12 February 2010

Plans and marvels

Plans and marvels
Ryan P. Wilson

Just beyond the borders of Downtown Disney, among the towering resorts of Hotel Plaza Blvd., previously known as Preview Boulevard with good reason, are two buildings that have a permanent place in the history of Walt Disney World, as well as a say in its future.

Walt Disney World Preview Center

In 1970, this small structure, on the edge of Lake Buena Vista and what would become the Vacation Kingdom, was the first Walt Disney World building to open to potential guests. For twenty-two months, between January 1970 and October 1971, potential guests could visit the Preview Center guests could purchase preview postcards and other souvenirs, view concept art, speak with hostesses, make reservations for the Contemporary and Polynesian resorts, wonder at the six-hundred and twenty-five foot model, and take in a showing of the 21 minute long film Project Florida.

While the Preview Center Closed with the opening of the Magic Kingdom in 1971, the building, parking lot, and spot along the shore of Lake Buena Vista still remain. Although the front of the building now reads Amateur Athletic Union, it still stands tall as the first home where guests could experience the magic of Walt Disney World.

Reedy Creek Improvement District

Just next door, and sharing a cut-through in the parking lot, is the home of the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID). Founded in 1967, the District was created by the Florida Legislature to provide governmental services to land that Walt Disney dreamed would become his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. As the twenty-five thousand acres of Walt Disney World began to be developed, it was clear that the original plans for the pastures and swamps of Central Florida had changed, but the purpose of the RCID is still the same. The District provides sewage and water, construction codes and inspections, emergency response services, and the maintenance of roads and bridges, among other services.

The land of Walt Disney World is continually being developed and refurbished, as well as protected for its natural and intrinsic beauty. The Reedy Creek Improvement District has been there through the forty years of growth and will continue to be there for the growth and protection of the land and its inhabitants, all from the comforts of its amazingly designed glass structure with Lake Buena Vista as its panoramic backdrop.

11 February 2010

The great hall

The great hall
Ryan P. Wilson

There are many magnificent creatures that can be found along the trails of the Maharajah Jungle Trek, counted among these are the feathered friends of Asia that can be found in the aviary. Once the hunting lodge and grounds of the maharajah, the Royal Preserve was transformed into the Royal Forest and given to all people so that the wildlife could be protected. What was once the hunting lodge’s great hall is now the home to the plumed fellows of forest. And while the great hall is their larger home, the birds of the Maharajah Jungle Trek have smaller, similarly ornate, residences.