31 May 2011

Reach for hope and desire

It doesn’t take much to harken back to your childhood days in Walt Disney World. An old brown on brown identification card, a postcard, pin or even a thick, land-by-land guide map could all lead to a walk down memory lane. While a picture can say a thousand words, it is rare to find a collage of images that succinctly sum up an entire park or area.

The patchwork of images below is from the 1983 Walt Disney World Vacation Guide. While the images from World Showcase are just as compelling, the backside of Epcot has seen substantially fewer changes in the past three decades than its futuristic counterpart, Future World. In just a few images the wit, forethought, and awe of Future World is forever captured.

Clockwise, starting at the top left:
AT&T WorldKey Information System
Listen to the Land boat
Used chariot salesman from World of Motion
Universe of Energy dinosaurs - note the harsher color palate than the current incarnation
Transcenter’s Aero 2000
Imagination’s Rainbow Corridor
Kitchen Krackpots featured in Kitchen Kabaret
Earth Station
World of Motions view of the city of tomorrow (background)

Absent are any images from Horizons or The Living Seas, both forthcoming in early 1983 (Horizons would open later that year and The Living Seas would follow in 1986), but the spirit of Future World is easily conveyed in this collection. I may have added height, weight, and years to my life, but these glimpses to my formative years in EPCOT Center still set my heart aflutter.

30 May 2011

Buffet with character

Time and again, one topic rises to the surface when discussing Walt Disney World. It isn’t history or attractions, nor is it resorts or characters, when all is said and done, the one thing we all want to talk about is food!

With food on the brain, the Gazette Roundtable, which is most fitting for this subject, gathers again to tell you what they are hankerin’ for…

Roundtable Topic: What is you favorite character meal, buffet or all-you-can-eat dining experience at Walt Disney World and why?
Roundtable Contributors: Elizabeth Caran (Take the Monorail), Melissa Loflin (Makin’ Memories), AJ Wolfe (The Disney Food Blog), Chris Fore (Yet Another Disney Blog), Scott Otis, and yours truly.
Elizabeth – So call me a girlie-girl, but my absolute favorite all-you-can eat at WDW is the Princess Breakfast at Akershus. Sure, Boma is awesome and Chef Mickey is totally fun, but at Akershus, they let me eat all I want AND they bring it to me. There is a small buffet with everything from fruit to cold cuts to bagels and yogurt, but I love that they bring the hot foods to our table family style. The eggs, bacon and sausage are standard fare for any breakfast, but their cheesy potatoes are seriously awesome. And they'll keep bringing so you really never have to leave your table. Of course we do because we want to sample everything.

We've taken both boys and girls to this meal and although it's only princesses, we've rarely had a boy complain. And the big boys in the party NEVER complain. We've met different princesses each time we go, so the experience is definitely worth repeating. And it seems not as many people hit this particular experience, so sometimes it's not at all crowded. There is a photo op at the beginning of the experience (so far, it's always been Belle when we go) but the line is relatively short and before you know it, you have a table full of great food and various princesses are circling the room. It has become a "must-do" whenever our family goes to WDW.

Melissa – I just recently wrote about my love of the family style breakfast at 'Ohana, but that was more of an emotional attachment. It's time to focus on the FOOD! Trail's End at Ft. Wilderness makes my tummy rumble. We used to enjoy the buffet lunch there before it was switched to an a la carte menu, but dinner is just as yummy. I am, after all, a southern gal, and this places serves up a heaping helping of down home goodness. We're talking a buffet full of chili, fried chicken, ribs, fruit cobbler, and the list keeps going. It's comfort food served in a comfy atmosphere. The best part is, when you're finished with your meal, you can mosey around the grounds and visit the horses or relax by the water. This is the place to go if you want to sit a spell and let time go by a little more slowly.

AJ – My favorite all-you-can-eat dining experience in Walt Disney World is Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue. The show makes me belly laugh no matter how many times I've seen it, and you just can't discount all-you-can-eat fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and strawberry shortcake. And where else do you get all-you-can-drink Sangria?

This place has been delighting (an old fashioned word, but truly applicable here) Disney World patrons for decades. It's always good. It's always consistent. And it's always worth the money. IMHO.

Chris – If I have to pick one, then I'll go with the Biergarten restaurant in Epcot's Germany Pavilion. Although you can find better food at other venues (Boma, anyone?), Biergarten offers a combination of atmosphere and live entertainment that push it over the top for me. Furthermore, dining at Biergarten feels like I am experiencing some genuine old-school EPCOT (although I wish the water-wheel still worked). "Tiki taki tiki taki" OY OY OY!

Scott – The greatest dining experience on Walt Disney World property is, by far, both Trail's End Buffet and The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground.

These restaurants have the advantage of being located in the last bastion of OLD Walt Disney World. Just getting there is a fun adventure: parking at Check-in and taking the motorcoach through the rustic wilderness of pine trees and through the loops of Guest's campsites and cabins.

In addition to being the greatest bargain at Walt Disney Wold, Trail's End has some amazing food in a rustic environment: all-you-care-to-eat fried chicken & other meats, chili, cobbler and ice cream. Such a relaxing, satisfying meal in the perfect location.

Hoop-Dee-Doo has an entertaining show (Six Bits, Claire de Lune and the Davy Crockett tribute) and delicious food (BBQ ribs, corn bread and strawberry shortcake), as well. I can remember all the times I've clanged my plate with my spoon to the tune of the foot-stomping music. Ask for the excellent server Dallas, if you can!

I absolutely love going to Fort Wilderness for a meal. Either the simpler Trail's End or the pricier Hoop-Dee-Doo completely satisfies me every time.

Yee haw!

Ryan – There are so many wonderful stops for buffet and character dining, from the uniqueness flavors of Boma, to the hearty grub of Trail’s End (though I prefer the take-out route and sitting on the shores of Bay Lake), and even the fun-filled meals of ‘Ohana. Yet, if I am forced to choose one dining destination, I would have to say the Crystal Palace.

It isn’t because of the food, although it does feature the most diverse collection of dishes within the Magic Kingdom. It isn’t even because Winnie-the-Pooh and his stroll by while you’re eating, and I expect these characters to become even more popular as the new Winnie-the-Pooh feature draws closer to the big screen. The fact of the matter is, I love the Crystal Palace for its setting.

The turn from Main Street U.S.A. towards Adventureland, the move from brick and mortar to colonization, all summed up in one Victorian outpost. Inspiration for the structure came from the San Francisco Conservatory, London’s Kew Gardens and New York’s Crystal Palace, and the beauty of the steel-meets-glass shines through, leading to great meals and wonderful interactions in stunning surroundings.

A lot of contributors fancy my favorite site in all of Walt Disney World, Fort Wilderness for their meal. I almost feel ashamed that I didn’t not belly up the to the buffet bar at Trail’s End. You may also have noticed that we didn’t get a buffet-sized portion of answers, truth be told May was a busy month between Star Wars Weekends and Destination D, which accounts for many of the missing in action contributors. That means it is more important than ever that we hear your dinner bells, as you leave a comment and tell us where you love to meet and eat!

29 May 2011

Disney This Week - 29 May 2011

AJ Wolfe has shucked a snack on The Disney Food Blog that I simply must have, Fried Corn on the Cob.

Progress City U.S.A. takes a step back to the future when Michael Crawford visits with a few of the robots of Epcot past.

Kevin Kidney shows off a few of the paper models crafted for Mickey’s Sundsational parade.

After a worrisome event in 2010, Matt Hochberg discusses how the Force is strong with the 2011 edition of Star Wars Weekends for Studios Central.

Makin’ Memories and Melissa Loflin present the case for staying at POP Century.

Andy Jackson is cooking with vegetables over at Eating (and Drinking) around the World.

DF’82 has a fantastic night photograph from Paradise Pier, captured by the intrepid Fiona Doyle.

You know, I really hate it when George Taylor does a book update for Imaginerding. I don’t have near enough funds to keep up with the additions to my want list!

Amanda Tinney does a bang up job of dissecting the Expedition Everest Challenge on Disney Every Day.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Jessica Clawson reviewed Peter Pan, the book by J.M. Barrie, for Walt’s Writers.

27 May 2011

Mickey: In Yellow

As part of the 2003 celebration of Mickey Mouse’s 75th anniversary, celebrities and high-profile Disney personalities were asked to design a single Mickey statue. The event was known as Celebrate Mickey: 75 InspEARations, and each statue used the same well known Mickey Mouse pose as a canvas to create their own unique work of art. The collection of statues then toured the country.

After the tour ended, the Mickey statues each had to find a new home away from life on the road. Today, this statue designed by Rosie O’Donnell calls Team Mickey Athletic Club in the Downtown Disney Marketplace home. The name of this statue is Mickey: In Yellow, it stands at six feet tall and weighs in at over a whopping seven-hundred pounds. Seems like Mickey may want to cut back on the camembert!

26 May 2011

Who killed who

The new interactive queue for the Haunted Mansion includes ghastly musical interludes, ghostly verse and a spitting, sputtering, leaking tomb. Yet, mixed in and around these elements are the silent gravestones, in addition to some new markers, whose clever wordplay and Disney references have entertained guests for forty years. At the entrance to the active cemetery is a set of five busts that melds the static humor of the original tombstones with the interactive tilt of the other new components.The five busts feature members of the Dread family: Cousin Maude, Wellington and Forsythia (also known as The Twins), Uncle Jacob, Aunt Florence and Bertie. The manner in which their lives were cut short are engraved on each bust’s plaque, which is as much attention as most guests give the busts. However, further inspection is what makes the game afoot. In addition to cause of death, each plaque also includes an item near and dear to the dearly departed. While each is vile in its own way, these emblems are the clue to who each family member murdered.

Below are the busts and their corresponding plaque. Gather your wits about you and see if you can deduce who killed who, and in what order! Post answers here or in the album on the Main Street Gazette’s Facebook page
. I’ll post the cryptic solutions on the Facebook page on Sunday afternoon.

25 May 2011

Plan a proper meal

I was graciously granted a review copy of The DFB Guide to Disney World Dining by my good friend, and the book’s author, AJ Wolfe several months ago. There have already been some extraordinary reviews of this book, but I wanted to make sure I gave it my unbiased opinion and full attention, so I took a copy of the book along with me to Walt Disney World last month to give it a solid test run.

I thought it would be difficult to push aside everything I knew about dining in Walt Disney World, but the easy manner in which AJ presented information made my convenient amnesia enjoyable. Want to know if the Disney Dining Plan is for you, and if so, which one? It’s in here. Want to know the best way to work the Advanced Dining Reservation system? Yep, she talks about that too. Want to know the best bets nearest to your current location in a park? She can help you there. Want to plan a trip around great food instead of attractions? Believe it or not, she has touring itineraries to help. Think you know about dining at Walt Disney World? I’m willing to bet AJ has something in here that will surprise even the most weathered guest.

Every restaurant, snack stop and watering hole from every corner of Walt Disney World, from the four parks to resorts, Downtown Disney and even water parks, is brought to life in this single volume. As if the words on the page weren’t tempting enough, The DFB Guide to Disney World Dining brings dishes and restaurants to life with gorgeous color photographs throughout the 250 page text.

There is a catch to AJ’s book, and that is that it only comes in e-book form. While this may mean you cannot have a bound copy to slide into that special spot on your bookshelf, it does mean it is much simpler to carry The DFB Guide with you around Walt Disney World. Use it on your home computer to plan ahead, on your laptop in the hotel room to make adjustments and on the go with your iPhone, iPad or Android devices.

Others, including myself, can talk about food and culinary events at Walt Disney World with some level of expertise, but AJ takes the cake. For years she has studied every angle of the Disney dining experience with the sole purpose of passing the benefits on to the readers of The Disney Food Blog. The innumerable hours spent pouring over menus and figures is brought to fruition in this one work.

When discussing travel to Walt Disney World there are books that often find their way into a suitcase or backpack. Most notably The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, Hidden Mickeys Guide and Lou Mongello’s Walt Disney World Trivia Books. It should go without saying that AJ’s guide immediately raises itself into that category.

This incredible volume presents well-researched, critical information about dining in Walt Disney World in a bright, fun manner. The digital availability of The DFB Guide to Disney World Dining will keep weight out of your touring backpack, while saving you valuable time and money. Just be sure not to page through this guide on an empty stomach!

24 May 2011

A show that has the whole town cooking

In these times of text and picture messaging and email, not to mention video streaming, postcards are not the thrilling “must send home” items that they once were. I still scour the ever-diminishing selection of postcards, but more for the images I wish to add to my collection and less about what I’m sending to friends and family. As a child of the pre-digital camera era, postcards were the way I brought home gorgeous images of my most beloved attractions and characters.

In early EPCOT Center, in other words before Mickey showed up in his rainbow emblazoned silver space suit, characters were hard to come by. The mascot duo of Dreanfinder and Figment were the marquee stars of the park, and their presence in the merchandise arena was equally dominant. Looking back at the cartooned postcards found at EPCOT Center in its first few years, Figment garnered a spot on three of the four cards. Who captured enough prominence to filch a single card away from the purple pigment Figment? Why, the cast of Kitchen Kabaret!
During your tour through The Land, you will see a wacky show called Kitchen Kabaret, which tells the story of nutrition in a very unusual way.

This card was released in 1982 when the park opened. The hostess of these musical meal elements, Bonnie Appetite, is not included in the artwork, nor is Mr. Eggz (although part of his shell, hat, and one arm with cane is just barely visible on the right edge), but every other member of the edible ensemble is present. The show presented the message of good nutrition, and how eating balanced meals will help you feel better and have more energy.

While they did not get as much facetime around EPCOT Center as Figment, the Cereal Sisters, Hamm and Eggz, Colander Combo and others were an indelible part of the early Epcot experience. Thankfully, they were immortalized in two highly sought after postcards, especially this one where the tunes and characters almost jump right out of the card.

23 May 2011

Vantage point of the segway

There are some pretty big thrills to be found around Walt Disney World, from the catapult launch of Rock ‘N’ RollerCoaster to the fifty degree banked Test Track turn, but sometimes the biggest thrills come in the smallest packages. So, what is the biggest thrill you can have at 6.5 miles per hour? Why, a tour through Epcot aboard a Segway.The tour, known as Around the World at Epcot, last two hours and starts out in Innoventions. The first hour of the outing is spent learning about the various types of Segways, the four-wheeled Centaur being my personal favorite, how to handle the vehicles, and running through a test course. Each part of the course is repeated several times until each participant is confident in their own handling abilities. This section of the tour will remind you a lot of Simon Says, but it is well worth the time to build self-assurance.

The group then moves out through Future World and towards World Showcase in a single file line. The group of Segways blaze a trail through the World Showcase pavilions, stopping to gather information from the tour guide. Sadly, not every pavilion is highlighted as the tour takes place before World Showcase opens and mainly between the ropes holding back guests in Norway and France. That means that Canada, United Kingdom, Norway and China are left on the outside of design stories.

While the promenade is free of guests during the circuit, there are Cast Members working, or heading to their posts, carts, hoses and other obstacles to avoid. However, once the tour reaches Italy, there is a large swathe of pavement set aside for free roaming. During my free time, I ran myself through figure eights and burned rubber trying to get my Segway to go as fast as I could get it.

The most challenging part of the entire experience was readjusting to walking around after having my legs locked in an upright position for the better part of two hours. Other than that, the only drawbacks come down to group size and wingspan. That is to say, that if you don’t have long arms mounting and dismounting can be quite difficult.

Before I round out this review of Around the World at Epcot, I want to take a moment to thank to two guides I had on my tour. Both Lamonte and Pete did an excellent job of informing and entertaining, which made the two hours simply fly by.

Segway tours are popping up all over the country, there are several alone here in Asheville, but Epcot was one of the first. Around the World at Epcot is reasonably priced and offers a unique outlook on World Showcase and personal transportation technology. After my trip around Epcot, an off the beaten path tromp through Fort Wilderness aboard a Segway is definitely in my future.

22 May 2011

Disney This Week - 22 May 2011

One of my favorite creatures since childhood, possibly because I grew up in Florida, is the manatee. Melissa Loflin takes note of the manatees in The Seas for Makin’ Memories.

A relaunched Star Tours has been thrilling guests for a week now. Who better to get a (spoiler free) Star Tours review from than Mr. Studios himself? Check out the thoughts of Matt Hochberg at Studios Central.

Fiona Doyle gives us a great piece of Walt Disney history found in Disneyland Paris on DF’82.

The Disney Food Blog and AJ Wolfe present the best tips for bringing home snacks from Walt Disney World.

Two articles of note from Imaginerding this week. First up, George Taylor gives a breakdown of what rocked and what sunk like a rock at Destination D last weekend. He also shares one of my favorite restroom signs, in one of my favorite spots in Walt Disney World.

R.A. Pedersen unveils Norway’s updated film proposal that was rejected by Walt Disney Imagineering. Head over to The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia and judge for yourself.

DesignerLand scribe and artist Richard puts forth the idea of a poster based off of Walt Disney’s sketch for Walt Disney World.

Over at Eating WDW, Sarah Holodick gives readers more than enough reasons to take on the menu at Tambu Lounge.

Jeff Heimbuch sheds light on the history and hidden gems of the Jungle Cruise for Disney Dispatch.

20 May 2011

Deactivate the shield generator

Today is the beginning of the 2011 edition of Star Wars Weekends. In honor of the event, and the official relaunch of Star Tours, we take a look at a set piece whose footprint on the original Star Wars trilogy and its own unique history with Star Tours. You may know it as the stage where the Jedi Training Academy is held, but this bunker is so much more.For starters, the bunker’s standing in the Star Wars universe comes into play in the third film of the first trilogy, also known as Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Han Solo’s strike team, evading the Empire’s detection by utilizing an Imperial shuttle and landing on the forest moon of Endor, is charged with deactivating the shield generator that is protecting second Death Star which, unbeknownst to the Rebel force, is fully-armed and operational. The shield generator is heavily protected, but Solo’s strike team is led to a back entrance by the native ewoks, the same bunker that now sits in front of Star Tours. Deception, disaster and carnage ensues, but eventually the rebels work their way into the bunker and complete their mission.

Meanwhile, back on earth, the bunker was not always in its current position or form. An original version of the Endor bunker once occupied a place at the exit to Star Tours. Strolling along the walkway by Star Tours, guests would have, once upon a time, passed by the imposing AT-AT walker, ewok village and then the bunker. At that time, the bunker was the gift shop attached to the exit of Star Tours, known as Endor Vendors instead of Tatooine Traders. In fact, it came complete with a wrecked speeder bike.

So, to all the jawas and jedis, sith and starspeeder pilots, and whether you’re jamming to Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes or the Max Rebo Band, I hope you have a fantastic weekend, even if you’re not at Star Wars Weekends. May the Force Be With You, one and all!

19 May 2011

From the wreckage

As lands in the Magic Kingdom go, Adventureland is one of the most thematically diverse. From Arabian marketplaces, Spanish colonialism, and even far flung settlements and river outposts, each occupies a section of the land as a whole. The castaway feel of Swiss Family Robinson escapes across the bridge from the treehouse and down the walkway, yet still in view of the Robinsons’ canopy villa.

The benches in this area feature not only remnants of the shipwrecked Swallow, but also a nod to the previous island inhabitants. While typical employed by guests taking a smoke or Dole Whip break, there is no official story as to the origins of these carvings. With images of lizards, fish, boats and people, among other shapes, these rocky etchings are just another way that stories are dictated to guests.

18 May 2011

Tossed to order

There is a word in the culinary dictionary that has been given a raw deal for ages. Just the mention of it can be met with sneers or tossed aside as a small plate to open a meal, but not a main course. I am, of course, talking about the word ‘salad.’ Before you die hard carnivores click away, take a quick look at the photograph below.Let me break it down for you. This is the Steakhouse Salad which can be found at the Contempo Cafe, obviously in the Contemporary Resort. The greens, the part of the salad that is most often derided, has plenty to compliment the main component. The other salad staples, shaved onions and tomatoes, are here, as is marinated beef, goat cheese and a mustard dressing.

These aren’t the small bite-sized pieces of beef found in most salads though. These are well-seasoned and hearty hunks of steak that, if you were so inclined, you could cut with fork and a knife. Then again, gnawing on a thick wedge of beef is generally more enjoyable than polite silver usage. The goat cheese is creamy, with an oak flavor that pairs well with the beef, while neither overwhelms the other.

As for the mustard dressing, it is the final kick to this anti-salad. The dressing grabs ahold of your taste buds and jolts them awake, while simultaneously opening up your sinuses. While bursting with tang, the dressing is not overwhelming. However, it is worth remembering that you can always choose to have the dressing on the side and not tossed into the salad, which allows you to add as little or as much as you would prefer.

The misconceptions of what can and does constitute a salad continue, and I have no delusions of grandeur that a single salad can change this type of erroneous thought. However, bite by bite, as we move towards a better tasting and better for us dishes, salads will begin to shine. Contempo Cafe’s Steakhouse Salad is definitely one such salad that can begin to change minds.

17 May 2011

A great place to play and stay

Not going to waste a lot of time talking today, I want to get you straight to the good stuff!

Last month, I had the pleasure of playing a round of golf on one of the original 1971 golf courses of Walt Disney World (more on that experience down the road). While the courses have been there since 1971, the resort only opened in 1973. Known since 1994 as Shades of Green, the resort was renamed The Disney Inn in 1986. For its first thirteen years it was the Golf Resort. Let’s take a look at how the hotel was advertised.

16 May 2011


Traffic patterns and beloved attractions have a way of shifting over time. The latest and greatest experiences are powerful shapers of park going experiences, as guests waiting at rope drop are immediately drawn towards the newest marquee attractions. Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been the midst of one of these park altering shifts for several years now.

In 1994 and 1999 the new additions to the Studios’ family, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘N’ RollerCoaster Starring Aerosmith respectively, turned Sunset Boulevard into a morning parade route populated by stampeding guests. This was the status quo, with crowds rotating between Fastpass machines and Stand By queues, until May of 2008 when Toy Story Midway Mania! opened on the other side of the park.Since that time, the throngs of people flooding down Sunset has been subdued by the massive walking footrace to Pixar Place. Still, Sunset Boulevard’s adrenaline boosting attractions retained their must-do-at-rope-drop status with dedicated thrill junkies, as well as second and third place standing among the majority of the Studios’ guests. This weekend, with the soft opening of the second incarnation of Star Tours, that minority Sunset drew in is going to face an even harder choice.

Star Tours, over the past several years, had not retained the same standing room only crowds that it once enjoyed. But the starspeeders have been reloaded with 3D effects and the possibility of fifty-four experiences, as opposed to the single version of the original, which means the crowds will be returning in droves. The drawbacks to Stars Tours are the same as they have always been, those sensitive to motion-simulators and the 40” height requirement. Star Tours’ newest flights will relieve some of the unbelievably long lines and quick Fastpasses outages of Toy Story Midway Mania!, but not all families will be booking passage above a Starspeeder 1000.So, what does that mean for traffic flow within the park and what will I be doing the next time I walk through the gates of Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

Movement through the park has been improved. Instead of a clog at the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards, the first draws have been moved towards sections nearer the back of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but still a fair distance away from one another. This separation between the, arguably, first four major attractions of the park means less congestion along the major walkways.

As for me? For my days, I will start out by heading over towards Toy Story Midway Mania!, grabbing a Fastpass, and then moseying over to Star Tours. Why? Well, I still need to work on my high score for Toy Story, but it isn’t a must do first thing in the morning. As for the reasoning behind Star Tours’ secondary placement, it isn’t for a lack of interest. In fact, it was placed second solely because I would like to spend some time with the droids and advertisements found within the queue.

No matter what road your trip through Hollywood takes, I imagine a trip through Andy’s Room, to a galaxy far, far away, along an L.A. freeway and a drop into another dimension are all in your forecast, no matter where you choose to head first.

15 May 2011

Disney This Week - 15 May 2011

Suzannah DiMarzio sits down with Ashley Eckstein to talk about everything from the Clone Wars to the Her Universe clothing line, and even includes reader’s questions for ZannaLand.

The authenticity of the Brown Derby’s decor is explored by Melissa Loflin and Makin’ Memories.

The best of the Main Street Bakery’s breakfast offerings are consumed and reviewed at The Disney Food Blog by the intrepid AJ Wolfe.

Fritz showcases the beauty of constructing EPCOT Center’s Future World on Imagineering Disney.

Speaking of beautiful construction, Shawn Slater gives DisneyShawn readers a glimpse into the construction of the Magic Kingdom.

The Disney Parks Blog features a glimpse into a guest room at the Contemporary Resort from 1971 thanks to the research of Nate Rasmussen.

Michael Crawford deconstructs the Germany Pavilion in incredible detail at Progress City, U.S.A.

Spuds are on the menu over at Eating (and Drinking) around the World, where Andy Jackson is talking about new potatoes in the parks.

Matt Hochberg explains why Disney’s Hollywood Studios is partying like its 1928 for readers of Studios Central.

13 May 2011

Come on, everybody

Sometimes an image is so iconic, that it doesn’t require an explanation. Then again, when has the obvious ever stopped us?

The opening sequence of Peter Pan’s Flight is one such recognizable scene. It introduces guest to Peter Pan, though the boy who never grew up never actually makes an appearance. What does turn up, however, is Peter’s shadow.The inclusion of Peter’s shadow is a critical element to the tale of Peter Pan. Peter’s shadow is apprehended by the Darling’s nurse-dog, Nana, in one of Peter’s previous visits to the Darling nursery. No matter which incarnation of Peter Pan is being explored, the scene in the nursery with Peter’s attempt to reapply his shadow with soap, followed by Wendy successfully reattaching the shadow to Peter Pan by sewing it on, sets the stage for everything that comes after.

In Peter Pan’s Flight, Peter’s shadow makes a fleeting trip through the room of Wendy, Michael and John as guest begin their journey to Never Never Land. It is a minute detail to include, but one that is critical to the story of Peter. Now, to quote our favorite flying rapscallion as we head into a weekend, “Come on, everybody! Here we go! Off to Never Land!”

12 May 2011

Maintain by shearing

Topiaries are the cornerstone of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, but they’re history goes back beyond the eighteen years Epcot has been putting on the event. Dating back to the earliest days of Walt Disney World, topiaries have been a crucial element to the landscaping of the resort.

Topiary, or the art of transforming living plants into ornate shapes, is employed in four different forms around Walt Disney World. Free form utilizes shearing to transform shrubbery and trees into geometric forms, an example of this form are the cup-shaped trees lining the Contemporary Resort’s drive. Standard form allows a plant to grow to a desired height and then bush out, the result appears as a miniature tree. Shrub topiaries grow through a wire frame over the course of three to ten years and are regularly sheared, such as the wavy serpent found near Cinderella Castle. Sphagnum topiaries are frames filled with unmilled sphagnum moss and seeded with fast growing vines or uniform compact plants. The first two types, free and standard topiaries, do not require frames, while shrub topiaries use a light frame and sphagnum topiaries use a heavy duty frame to support the added weight of the sphagnum.

The majority of topiaries found within the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival are of the sphagnum variety. Utilizing fast growing plants, such as creeping fig, the subject matter of the topiaries can be cultivated quickly. As the festival winds down this weekend, let’s take a sampling tour of some of this year’s topiaries, which feature Pixar characters for the first time ever.