29 April 2011

Fully licensed

Congratulations to William and Catherine!

Now, on to the party! Pubs in the United Kingdom have been granted the ability to stay open until 1:00am tonight and tomorrow night in order to celebrate the Royal wedding, which means this is the perfect time to explore The Rose & Crown.

Even a casual glance at the Rose & Crown will reveal that the outward architectural design isn’t coherent across the board. In actuality, the traditional English pub was patterned after four distinctive style of pubs. Rather than show my incomplete knowledge of architecture at this juncture, I’ll leave it to the professionals:
The city, or “street,” pub dating from the 1890s Victorian city center – features brick and wood paneling on the facade and gives us our elegant mahogany bar, the etched glass, and the molded plaster ceiling.

Dickensian pub, after the Cheshire Cheese pub in London – offers a brick-walled flagstone terrace with covered tables, a slate roof, and half-timbered, Elizabethan-styled exterior.

Waterfront, or “river,” pub, on the canal lock – a facade with a modest stone building, a clay tile roof and decorative doorways, stone terrace with an iron fence lining the homey village-inn-styled dining room.

Country, “provincial,” pub, from the suburbs of the 17th and 18th centuries – a slate roof and plaster exterior with stone-quoined corners.

p. 119, The Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot, First Edition, 2006.
Alex Wright

As the descriptions imply, the design elements of these various types of pubs isn’t exclusive to the exteriors, but follows through into the stylized interiors. While you may not be able to venture over to the Rose & Crown today, I hope you to find time to raise a glass to the newest Royal couple!

28 April 2011

Disney's best kept secret

Yeah, it’s a corny title that I’ve avoided using for years. But the time seemed right as today’s safari is the perfect blend of corny and that tippy-top, super-duper, best kept secret, the Disney Vacation Club.The Disney Vacation Club, or DVC, is a program I am not a member of, but hope to be one day, that’s off-topic, however. Throughout the parks and resorts of Walt Disney World are DVC kiosks where you can learn about the program. You can’t miss the stands, they are well placed and draw attention, which seems kind of a silly place to talk about a secret, if you ask me.

The kiosk of Dinoland U.S.A. in Disney’s Animal Kingdom fits in perfectly with the kitsch of Chester and Hester’s and the playful nature of the graduate students, as seen throughout The Boneyard and Restaurantosaurus. Billed as Gargantuasaurus World Tours, the station presents signs featuring ‘dig sites’ in the place of resorts, with the location or theme of the resort playing into what fossil finds could be found there.

Which dig site would you call home?

27 April 2011

Feeling grand

Here’s the scenario: You woke up hours before the sun crawled out of bed to light the world, showered, got dressed, ran down to the bus stop and grabbed the bus to make sure you were in Disney’s Animal Kingdom for Extra Magic Hours rope drop. The crowds were thick, but with adrenaline pumping you grabbed one of the first Fastpasses for Exepedition Everest, ran through the line, and then bolted for Kilimanjaro Safaris. You were more awake than the animals, and then it happens. The adrenaline runs out and you’re getting sluggish. You realize that you didn’t have breakfast and you are hours away from lunchtime, what do you do?

Then you see it, an oasis. Well, not the Oasis, near the park’s entrance, but a beautiful sight nonetheless. You’ve stumbled upon Pizzafari in Discovery Island, and they serve breakfast!

During the morning rush this gorgeous restaurant can be pretty deserted, so be sure to take some time and explore each room and uncover their themes. As for the menu, it offers something for every appetite, from yogurt or fruit cups to breakfast pizza and platters. As for me, I wanted something quick and hot, that didn’t involve eggs (I have a think about eggs, but that’s another story). Then I saw it, Biscuits with Sausage Gravy.Now, I am the first to admit this is not a dish for everyone. However, if you are a fan of biscuits and gravy then this breakfast will satisfy. For a reasonable price, under $4.00, I received two biscuits topped with a heaping serving of gravy. The biscuits themselves were very hearty, but maintain the flaky layers associated with a well-made biscuit. They were certainly substantial enough to stick with me throughout the morning.

Sausage gravy can be very tricky. I have had my share of gravy that sat on my plate as a bland, white, starchy substance I didn’t really care to consume. I was pleasantly surprised that Pizzafari’s sausage gravy was far from this type of gravy. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was as good as a homemade gravy, it did have pieces of sausage present and enough of a kick to give it some real flavor.

The next time you rush from your resort for a morning safari without breakfast, just remember Disney’s Animal Kingdom has you covered. And the Pizzafari oasis is no mirage!

26 April 2011

Under way with a new Disney

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a sucker for construction photographs at Walt Disney World. Sometimes they show the metal skeleton of a building or an almost completed icon, but they always show off the hard, often hot and dirty, work that went into building a place I was taught to love. That type of work ethic is something I hope I have showcased in my own life. Often times that level of dedication is shown best, not in the wienies, such as Cinderella Castle, but in the smaller projects. Case in point:
Thursday, July 8, 1971 – This is a view of the dock and teen swimming pool in the Bay Lake at Walt Disney World which is being built near Orlando in central Florida.
The dock, recreational facilities and swimming pool may not be as exciting or notable as the monorail, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or even the resort itself, but how many guests made long lasting memories sitting on that dock at dusk or playfully splashing in the pool? It’s all a matter of outlook.

25 April 2011

A world of resorts

The Gazette Roundtable is back and ready to relax!

There is so much to see and do in the parks, that it always feels as if there isn’t enough time to do it all. Yet, some of the best ways to spend time in Walt Disney World is to explore and enjoy the resorts. We all have the places we love to stay and the places we love to play, but what if you couldn’t leave your resort? The Gazette Roundtable tackles that tricky, and fun, prospect today!

Roundtable Topic: You have one day and you must spend it all at a single resort (no parks, resort hopping, Downtown Disney, etc.), what resort would you spend the day at and how would you spend it?
Roundtable Contributors: George Taylor (Imaginerding), Fiona Doyle (DF’82), Melissa Loflin (Makin’ Memories), AJ Wolfe (The Disney Food Blog), Elizabeth Caran (Take the Monorail), Eric Hoffman (Netmongrel), and yours truly.

George – This is an easy one. The Polynesian Resort is one of my favorite places to be in all of Walt Disney World. My absolute favorite place at Walt Disney World is the Adventureland bridge. To me it is a perfect Zen-like spot where the Imagineers got everything right.

Daily Figment 46

So, yeah, it is a pretty easy jump to see why I would like the theme of the Polynesian Resort.

Let's knock out the list of the amenities:
• Great eating establishments,
• Some of the largest guest rooms on property,
• A fun pool,
• Water and monorail transportation,
• Water recreation,
• the Electrical Water Pageant, and
• a real beach!

Another Disney-Geek satisfying reason is that the Poly is one of the original resorts. As expected, some things have changed and have been upgraded, but you still have the opportunity to walk smack-dab into the middle of some gooey, 1970s Vacation Kingdom goodness. The Poly was also the home to some pretty amazing things; the Bob-a-Round boats, the Eastern Winds and the first Disney wave machine were all Polynesian staples.

But why would I want to spend a day there? Well, the grounds are wonderfully laid-out and landscaped. For a flagship resort, you get a sense of intimacy and privacy that is simply not available at the other deluxe resorts. They have great restaurants. And Ryan didn't say that I couldn't take the water launch to the Magic Kingdom and then just ride the monorail back. I wasn't hopping and I didn't go into the Magic Kingdom. I would have a great breakfast at Ohana's, lunch at Captain Cook's and dinner at the Spirit of Aloha Luau. I would spend the evening on the beach with my family waiting on Wishes and the Electrical Water Pageant...and enjoying various libations. Then we would shuttle the kids off to the room (the oldest is old enough to watch his younger brother) and we would take a nice, romantic stroll among the many buildings of the Polynesian Resort.

Ryan, can we go to the Magic Kingdom the next day?

Fiona – This was a really tough one, for me. But I had a good think about it, and it was a close call between two. I was tempted to say Saratoga Springs, as I was lucky enough to experience their spa recently, but I decided to go with one that I love and could spend hours exploring: Wilderness Lodge.

It may not have the animals that Animal Kingdom Lodge has, or the exploration levels that Fort Wilderness has, but Wilderness Lodge is one of the coziest, and most fun resorts that WDW has to offer! I would spend time exploring the lobby, wandering around the different floor levels that overlook the lobby, and searching for all the hidden treasures this resort has to offer.

Once the air-conditioning had taken its toll, or if it was winter, I would settle on the rocking chairs in front of the fireplace and just relax.

Of course, no visit to Wilderness Lodge would be complete without dining in the Whispering Canyon Cafe! Their burgers are to-die-for and I have five words for you: All You Can Eat Milkshake. Your mouth is watering, isn't it?

I would spend some time by the pool, perhaps going for a dip if the weather was in favour. And when I just needed a rest, I would sit back and watch the boats on the lagoon.

While there are plenty of things to see and do at the Lodge, it is also a beautiful place to just get some rest and relaxation. And you can end up feeling like you are right in the middle of the Wilderness, in Walt Disney World.

Melissa – My husband and I just recently bought into DVC and chose Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge as our home. We fell in love with this resort on our first stay.

My ideal day at the Lodge would begin with a plentiful breakfast at Boma. Afterward, you can observe the animals on the numerous savanna overlooks around the resort grounds and, at the right times during the day, listen to Cast Members talk and answer questions about the animals and the resort. Of course, it’s not a relaxing day if you don’t spend some quality time by Uzima Springs, the resort’s pool (or in this case, African watering hole).

Heading back inside, don't forget to explore the African art you’ll find around the resort’s lobby. At different times during the day you can catch resort Cast Members sharing stories and information about Africa and some of the art pieces in the lobby. You can also meet the Pin King inside the Zawadi Marketplace, where he’s ready and willing to trade pins with you. While you’re there, do some shopping. Zawadi offers up a variety of handmade African creations; from paintings to carvings to clothing, there’s something for everyone.

As evening approaches, head downstairs to Jiko where you can enjoy a romantic meal, all with African flavors and flair. Of course, a seat at the counter looking into the show kitchen is a must. After dinner, head outside to listen to the nightly story telling around the firepit, then grab a pair of the night vision goggles and take in the savannas in the dark.

Finally, call it a night by relaxing at Victoria Falls with a glass of African wine before calling it a day. Now you’ve had a fully restful, but interesting and fun-filled day, without ever leaving your resort.

AJ – Animal. Kingdom. Lodge. There's no other answer to this question, is there?

My day would begin with breakfast at Boma, after which I'd head over to Zahanati Spa and Fitness center for a 5-minute jog and a 50-minute massage. I'd get to the pool just in time for the pool bar to open and talk the bartender into making me a Leisure Suit drink. After swimming for a bit, I'd have an afternoon snack at Sanaa and spend some time chatting with the cultural interpreter at the Kidani Village firepit... OR I'd head to Jiko for a wine tasting.

Soon it would be time for the 4pm Culinary Tour of Jiko and Boma. Hopefully that won't overlap with my Wanyama Safari and dinner at Jiko! If we're finished in time, I'd head to the Jambo House firepit for African Storytelling followed by some night-vision goggle viewing of the animals on the savanna!

Whew! Time for bed!

Elizabeth – This is a great question to ask me because I'm pretty much a resort junkie. I firmly believe that a resort can make or break your trip and my goal is to eventually have stayed at all of them. I'm more than 3/4 done with that goal. So after pondering this question for quite some time, I realized that there are certainly factors to consider. Just like the "If you are stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have with you?" My first question is "Where is the island? Do I need a coat?" Because if it's cold, my three thing will be way different than if it's warm.

So when picking my resort, really every Disney resort has plenty to offer... so now the factors are, "Is it raining? Do I have kids with me? Do I have ANYONE with me?" Because to be fair... I've actually spent close to a full day in the resort on many of my trips. It's not a foreign concept to me and it's one I encourage others to do.

Does it seem like I'm stalling? Alright, fine...

I'm going to assume I am alone and it is NOT raining. (Although my choice would probably still hold true if I had kids with me). I would pick the Polynesian. It's an odd choice perhaps, because there are certainly resorts with more shops, more activities, and even more restaurant choices. (My second choice would be Animal Kingdom Lodge). But for a day in the resorts, I want to spend it in a place that makes me feel like I am truly on vacation... not just in a hotel. I'd sleep in, and then grab some breakfast at Kona. I'd do a little shopping and browse the art gallery downstairs, then put on my suit, grab my Nook, and head to the pool. I'd laze around in and out of the water reading reading and reading while enjoying a beverage or two from the bar. More than likely, I'd spend a little time on the beach there as well, enjoying the view of the Magic Kingdom. Since I'm alone, Ohana wouldn't feel like a fabulous choice for dinner, so I'd go to Captain Cook's and then watch the fireworks from the beach. Then I'd return to my room for television, maybe some internet time, more reading, and sleep. Low key? Why yes... yes it is. After all, let's not forget that Walt Disney World is a vacation destination.

Eric – How would I spend one day at a single resort? This isn’t as hard as it might sound, really. There are a myriad of activities available at the Walt Disney World resorts. My wife and I view the resorts as destinations in and of themselves. Honestly, if you were able to experience Walt Disney World level accommodations at any of your non-Disney vacation destinations, you would be thrilled!

I used to think the Yacht Club was my favorite Disney resort, but in truth the Polynesian Resort is my hands down favorite. My only problem is that I’ve never stayed at the Poly. I know how I’d spend that magical day there, however. This particular trip is a fictitious adult-only trip with a fellow Disney fanatic and best friend, my wife.

Our day would start early with some coffee (hot chocolate for her) out at the end of the pier looking out over Seven Seas Lagoon. I love the relative peace and quiet of Disney World in the morning. Just hanging out there watching the day begin with the ducks and a few water craft moving about on the lagoon would be a great start to a long and entertaining day.

Next up on the agenda is a hearty breakfast and character meet and great at ‘Ohana with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, and Pluto. We have eaten at ‘Ohana before and had a great time and really enjoyed the simple but tasty breakfast fare. The views from ‘Ohana are amazing, and the character interaction with Stitch and friends is a ton of fun.

After breakfast I think it might be good to get the adrenaline racing out on the lagoon itself. The Mikala Canoe Club Marina at the Poly rents Sea Raycers by the half-hour. What could be more fun than racing around Seven Seas Lagoon under the shadow of the Polynesian, Contemporary, and Grand Floridian resorts, not to mention the distant views of Cinderella’s castle? What fun! Of course there is parasailing too. Maybe just one quick trip up in the air wouldn’t hurt; there’s time!

After that action packed morning, I’d say it was time to head back to the room for a short nap. Our concierge (I did mention we were staying Club Level with concierge service in the King Kamehameha Suite, didn’t I?) has arranged for a nice little early afternoon snack in our room. We can enjoy our in-room dining while we relax a bit and relive the morning fun in the spacious jacuzzi tub. Next up is a change into bathing suits so we can hit the Poly’s beach for a little sunbathing, reading, chatting or snoozing. After some time in the hot Orlando sun, the best way to cool off is to take some fast trips down the Nanea Volcano Pool’s waterslide and then some laps (leisurely laps of course) around the pool.

After a quick change back at the suite (all hail King Kamehameha!) we are ready to start the evening’s festivities. We’ll just happen to arrive up at the Great Ceremonial House just in time to catch the torch lighting ceremony and then some leisurely shopping and people watching until our 8pm seating for Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show. This is a family-style luau featuring hula dancing and fire/knife performers. It is an absolute must for the perfect south-seas inspired day at the Poly.

To end the day on a quiet and romantic note, we take some drinks down to the dark, quiet beach. It just so happens that Wishes is about to start. The view of Wishes from the Poly’s beach is actually really great; and with great company there, you couldn’t ask for a better ending to a truly magical Polynesian Resort day

Ryan – Where would I spend my day? This should be obvious to anyone who has spent some time wandering through the Gazette’s back issues, Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort.

I’d start my day climbing out of my tent and give a good morning shiver to the damp chill in the Florida air. I’d don my shower shoes, hike down to the Comfort Station and freshen up for the day ahead. Before heading back to the campsite, I’d check the community board to see if there were any extra-curricular activities going on that day.

Back at the campsite, I would consider boiling some water for tea and grits, but end up heading to Trail’s End for the breakfast buffet. I’d spend the rest of my morning exploring the history of Fort Wilderness. I would hike through the pedestrian nature trail which passes the old Marshmallow Marsh area. Speaking of hiking, I would probably make a point to hike along the railbed of the Fort Wilderness Railroad and venture over to Tri-Circle D to view the display on Walt’s equine history and the Dragon Calliope.

Midday would call for some snacks from Crockett’s Tavern, before splashing down in the Meadow Swimmin’ Pool, where I would also grab an ice cream. After a round of checkers at the Trading Post, I would either grab a Segway tour or explore Discovery Island and River Country with a Sea Raycer.

While I love the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, I would likely grab some fried chicken to go from Trail’s End and relax on the shores of Bay Lake. Making my way back to the Meadow area, I would be sure to stop by my campsite and grab my roasting stick and bag of marshmallows. Roasting stick? Marshmallows? That can only mean one thing, campfire!

I would stick around the fire pit long enough to catch up with Chip and Dale, listen to the sing-a-long with Cowboy Anthony and fill my belly with molten marshmallows. The movie under the stars would have to be skipped, unless it were Peter Pan, in order to book it back down to Bay Lake.

I’d take in the Electrical Water Pageant and Wishes from the shore and then head back to the campsite. Hopefully, I remembered to plug in the little lantern lights strung about my site for some late night fudge from the Meadow Trading Post and some cards. If not, I’d call it an early night and be asleep before the sleeping bag had time to settle in around me.


Now that we know where the Gazette crew would spend their days, and what activities they would fill them with, what about you? What resort would you spend a day at and how would you occupy your time?

Oh, and George. You can visit the Magic Kingdom tomorrow, as long as you behave yourself today…

22 April 2011

Some kind of commotion downstream

Hey gang! As you read this I am on the road down to Walt Disney World for fun, (hopefully) sun and a lot of research with the wild man seen above (aka my dad). Be sure to follow along with the adventures on Twitter or Ryan on Facebook!

As for the Main Street Gazette, fear not, all of the articles will be running on their regular cycle while I am away. The only exception will be Disney This Week on Sundays, which will pick back up on May 8th.

I hope to see a lot of you while I am there and bring back some great articles for those of you staying at home. See ya’ real soon!

Greetings from Dionland U.S.A.

This postcard backdrop for Dinoland U.S.A. is usually covered up by smiling families and research ready Goofy and Pluto. The shelter was added in the fall of 2009 as an extension of Chester and Hester’s and as a photo-op location for the most child-friendly land in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. While the details of the small structure play perfectly with others in the vicinity, the real story is the oversized postcard backdrop.While billed as Dinoland U.S.A. on the picture, the image displays a much earlier incarnation of this corner of Diggs County. The lodge turned restaurant has not appear to have been overrun with researchers and paleontologists yet, Chester and Hester’s still functions as a gas station and there is no dig site present. While the level of detail is amazing, further down the road the little red shack that now houses Trilo-Bites is even included in the artwork, there has been some artistic licensing going on here. The water tower, while it could have been moved, is most certainly closer to Restaurant/Restaurantosaurus than it is to Chester and Hester’s.

It is difficult to find a time when this meet-and-greet area isn’t going to the dogs, Pluto and Goofy that is, but if you find it uninhabited, be sure to stop. As you examine the simpler times that once ran rampant around this small thoroughfare, much in the way simpler times once resided in the sleepy swamps that would become Walt Disney World, think about the painstaking details that not only went into this piece of artwork, but also the planning that went into Dinoland U.S.A. itself.

21 April 2011

Easter eggs-perience

There is no arguing it, massive holidays bring massive crowds to the Magic Kingdom. As holidays are family experiences, and the Magic Kingdom is at the heart of the family experience, it makes sense. That doesn’t mean that other parks should be overlooked. Yes, the Easter Bunny will be in the Magic Kingdom this coming Sunday, hopping down the lane, but give me Easter at Epcot.

While not burgeoning with family activities, there is a well-organized Easter Egg Hunt every twenty minutes throughout the day. The green spaces of Future World West are decked with oversized egg decorations and the ground is literally covered with small plastic-shelled eggs. In addition to the Easter Egg Hunts, Future World West is also the home to the traditional, and hilarious, Easter Egg Relay.

Good times will be had by all, whether or not the big bunny makes an appearance.

20 April 2011

Nuts to me

There are plenty of times at Walt Disney World that you want to sit down and enjoy your snacks, whether it is a pastry from Boulangerie Patisserie or some fudge from the Main Street Confectionary. Often times, however, you are on the go and need a snack that can travel with you. While the obvious choices, popcorn and ice cream, are both delicious and have their merits, today we’re focusing on something a little nutty.

Throughout Walt Disney World, you can find snack carts selling cinnamon roasted, or glazed, almonds. Also, the occasional cart can be found selling cinnamon roasted peanuts or a version that mixes the two, but my personal favorites are the almonds. The almonds are placed in a churning vat filled with the cinnamon and sugar glaze. After an ample coating has been applied, the hot almonds are divvied out into small triangular bags and folded shut to keep in the heat.

They are sweet and crunchy and mobile, everything needed for a snack on the go. They cinnamon glazed almonds have one more leg up over other snacks, energy. The almonds, which are almost mouth puckering in their sweetness, pack a punch of protein. This makes them the perfect snack for families. No more children crashing from the sugar rush of ice cream and they’ll have the enjoy to make it through that afternoon push.

These carts are not very difficult to find, mostly you’ll just have to follow your nose to the scent of warm cinnamon. The cinnamon roasted almonds will give the perfect afternoon boost or keep you warm on a chilly night. The next time you are looking for a quick bite on your way to using your next Fastpass, be sure to give these a try.

19 April 2011

Larger than life figures

When Epcot unleashed its Millennium Celebration, it brought with it a parade unlike anything guests had seen before. Tapestry of Nations, which would be transformed into the Tapestry of Dreams later in the parade’s lifespan, featured rolling percussion units that shook World Showcase with seven-hundred and twenty drums, but the real draw were the puppets.

The parade rolled out in three sections, from Mexico to Germany, Germany to Morocco and Morocco to Canada. Each of the three segments were identical to one another, which meant guests would not miss out on a particular performance piece. The parade operated twice nightly, the first time running clockwise around the lagoon (Mexico to Germany, Germany to Morocco and Morocco to Canada) and the second time returning the processions to their original starting parts by going counter-clockwise (Germany to Mexico, Morocco to Germany and Canada to Morocco).The throng of performers in the cavalcade towered over the guests, standing at a whopping eighteen feet. While some of the performers stood on stilts, the majority of the engaging entertainers were the one-hundred and twenty puppets controlled by a puppeteer at their base. The brainchild of designer Michael Curry, the puppets were crafted so that they weren’t only a part of the processional, but were also able to interact with guests. If the puppets of Tapestry of Nations reminds you of similarly creative puppets from Finding Nemo: The Musical, that’s likely because he worked on those as well, in addition to puppets from Broadway’s The Lion King, the Jammin’ Jungle Parade and Aladdin at Disney California Adventure, among others.

Tapestry of Nations ran from 1999 until it morphed into Tapestry of Dreams in 2001. In early 2003, the parade was shut down entirely. Save a nighttime spectacular, Epcot has never fully embraced large-scale entertainment productions. Tapestry of Nations was just another glimmer of hope for those who love pageantry, and what a wonderful glimpse it was.

18 April 2011

When our new starspeeder service resumes

What has been billed as Star Tours - The Adventure Continues appears to have received its final name treatment as Disney has launched a Facebook page for Star Tours 3D.That’s all well and good, but I want to talk about a key element of the experience that has been discussed, but never fully appreciated, the ability to venture through the planets some many Star Wars fans have only dared to dream of.

What every red-blooded child who grew up wishing to inhabit the distant planets of the Star Wars universe wished, more than anything, was to walk along the same paths as Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie and the droids. The original incarnation of Star Tours gave this to us in a very physical way, with a queue designed to an Ewok village on Endor, overseen by an AT-AT, and later with a gift shop tied to Tatooine (it was originally designed as the shield generator bunker, also from Endor). Once onboard the ride, however, the trip to Endor succeeded in carrying passengers from one spaceport to another, with lightspeed and a dash through the Battle of the Death Star. Don’t get me wrong, these were just as much a part of the dream as setting foot on Dagobah or dueling with Darth Vader, but when the trip ended we still hadn’t reach a Star Wars destination.

That, is about to change.

We’ve all been keeping tabs on the latest artwork and list of destinations, waiting impatiently to head to the gates and board our newly refurbished Starspeeder 1000s. For those unaware, random sequencing will enable the stories of Star Tours 3D to mix and match destinations and story elements to create different experiences. Along the way we may encounter Darth Vader or Boba Fett, arguably the two greatest badasses the galaxy has ever known, pod racing, AT-ATs on Hoth, or even the newly formed skytroopers, a new iteration of stormtroopers.

Here’s the part that seems to be glossed over, we will actually be flying through the destinations we have watched and read about! This isn’t a storyline that says we’re boarding for a trip to Endor to never reach it, this is a trip aboard a spacecraft where we will get to Tatooine, possibly via a route through Hoth and Kashyyyk. Actually bringing these destinations to life, creating new adventures in the wilds of distant planets, that is a dream worth living out, don’t you think?

I’ve shared this with the Main Street Gazette’s readership before, but I’m on a personal tear here, so it bears repeating. Once upon a time, I boarded Star Tours with my father for my first flight. As fate would have it, he was also my copilot for my final flight last year. My father and I don’t get down to Walt Disney World together as often as I would like, but he is tagging along with me on my trip during the last week of April. Now, I know Star Tours 3D isn’t slated to open until May 20th, but wouldn’t it be cool to take that first new flight with him during a soft opening or preview that week? Walt Disney World, are you listening? My father and I are strong in the Force, could you make this happen for us?

17 April 2011

Disney This Week - 17 April 2011

One of the best ideas I’ve seen in years! AJ Wolfe offers up her reasoning as to why Walt Disney World needs an Automat on The Disney Food Blog.

As part of the celebration of National Library Week on Imaginerding, George Taylor uncovers a tale of Walt Disney’s support of National Library Week in 1959.

Progress City, U.S.A. is home to some of the most obscure EPCOT Center details, and the current installment from Michael Crawford, Mr. Intelligence and IB4E, is no exception.

Jessica Clawson unveils a new segment for Walt’s Writers: From Walt’s Shelf. In the inaugural article she tours through Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Zannaland scribe, Suzannah DiMarzio, is hoping that the Easter Bunny stops by the Main Street Confectionary before heading to her house. I can’t say as I blame her.

Over at Studios Central, Matt Hochberg makes a compelling argument for touring Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the course of two days.

Melissa Loflin presents a the touching story of why ‘Ohana means so much to her on Makin’ Memories.

I’ve seen some amazing wedding cakes in my day, including my own, but Amanda Tinney and Disney Every Day offers a showcase of cakes from Disney’s Fairy Tale Wedding and Honeymoon Bridal Showcase that will knock your socks off!

Jeff Heimbuch does an amazing job uncovering the fourth caballero that never made it to the screen for Disney Dispatch.

DisneyShawn features a story about the history of Asia and the Red Temple by Shawn Slater.

15 April 2011

Blockbuster weekend

For much of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney-MGM Studios before, the area known as Streets of America was known as New York Street. In 2005, with the unveiling of Light, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show a new avenue appeared in the district, this time a vista of San Francisco. While the block was short, the backdrop used forced perspective to allow the mind to wander beyond the townhouses.

One detail that was included in the backdrop was a newspaper box containing the day’s allotment of The Examiner. What is the headline adorning this San Francisco publication? Blockbuster Weekend, the story touting the success of the Disney-Pixar smash hit The Incredibles.In 2009 the wear and tear of Florida’s sunshine and other harsh weather meant the screen needed to be replaced. While the panoramic scene remained identical, the newspaper machine had a minor change to its papers. The box still contained copies of The Examiner and the headline still read Blockbuster Weekend, but now the headline referred to the summer smash Up.

Keeping up with the times, what a great attention to detail!

14 April 2011

Pioneer founders

Among Minnie’s many talents, including artistic, publishing and culinary exploits, is her fascination with her Mouse heritage. Much of the genealogy that she has uncovered is mounted on her living room wall. These photographs of her ancestors show just how much Minnie has explored her past and loves her family, and there are some very famous mice in this lineage. Included on the wall are Sheikh Manni El Mousri, Florence Micingale, Mather and May Mousesmith, Daniel Toon, Milo Mouse and Mabeline VanMouse, Milieus and Maris O’Mouse, Mathilda Mousebj√∂rg and Merik Moustr√∂m, Merry and Marley Mousill and Princess Marie DuMouse are all framed alongside closer family relations.

With the shuttering of Mickey’s Toontown Fair, these photographs from Minnie’s Country House were removed from public display. But chances are, they aren’t too far from Minnie’s heart.

13 April 2011

Fresh handmade corn tortillas

October is the perfect time to think about food and Epcot. The World Showcase promenade is peppered with kiosks for the International Food and Wine Festival and the air is filled with the deliciously tempting scents of the amazing dishes. That is all well and good, but last October, I also took time to investigate the newly refurbished and redesigned La Cantina de San Angel.My wife and I wanted to get a broad taste of the restaurant, so rather than choosing a standard water or Coca-Cola, we opted for the Agua Fresca and a bottle of Sidral. My wife like the fruit infused water, but did not feel the Agua Fresca was worth the extra cost. As for my Sidral, I was thoroughly pleased with this apple soda, although again I was not entirely sold on the rationale for the upcharge above regular beverages.For our meals, my wife and I selected the Tacos de Carne and Tacos de Pollo. Each meal came with three small tacos on homemade corn tortillas, lime, Pico de Gallo and tortilla chips. I have heard complaints about no true side dishes, but the tortilla chips and salsa made for a fine supplemental dish in my mind and stomach. Also, some have taken issue with the handmade tortillas, but we both found these to be closer to traditional tortillas than anything else we had tasted in a restaurant before. It may take some getting used to for those unfamiliar with them, but it was as if one of our family friends had made them for us and shipped them to World Showcase.As for the meat of the tacos, they were both excellent. The marinated chicken was succulent and flavorful and we both gave it two thumbs up. As for the grilled beef, my wife thought it had a good flavor but was too dry, whereas I thought it tasted just fine. Then again, I do tend to like my meat a bit dryer. The only real concern for these two entrees again comes back to the price points at which they are presented. For the cost of each meal I would have expected two side, the tortilla chips and perhaps either rice or beans, or both.La Cantina de San Angel has a new feature, before the massive renovations seating was only available in outdoor seating venues. Now, as the story supports that the La Hacienda is a house where guests have stopped by for a meal, La Cantina patrons have a choice of seating outside along the shores of World Showcase Lagoon or inside La Hacienda, at least during the day. The ability to dine inside truly takes the sting out of the midday sun and allows guests to take in the simple elegance of a Mexican Hacienda.

Overall, my wife and I enjoyed our meal at La Cantina de San Angel, but the bill gave us indigestion. The restaurant has been filed away in my memory as a location that I would love to try again, with a note reminding me that it was not as economical as most Mexican restaurants I frequent. I recommend everyone giving the restaurant a try, provided the cost of a meal here isn’t going to leave a sour taste in your mouth.