31 July 2012

Innovations for tomorrow and nations of today

As part of the prelude to EPCOT Center’s opening, Walt Disney World put on quite a show. In addition to a preview center, guests were also able to take a trip aboard the monorail to view the project in the final stages of its construction, and there was even a way to excite friends and family back home. A postcard booklet featuring preview images of concept art and scale models was the perfect preview for those who couldn’t wait to explore Future World and World Showcase.

The booklet wasn’t a collection of postcards to send out to various destinations, it was an accordion style pamphlet that folded up and was sent to one person in one neat package. The thirteen images within covered the pavilions of Future World and World Showcase, as well as EPCOT Center as a whole.

30 years ago, as Walt Disney World was on the verge of unveiling EPCOT Center to the world, this would have been the perfect way to pass the coming weeks until the park opened. So, let’s venture back to 1981 and early 1982 and see what the future would look like on October 1, 1982.

EPCOT CENTER opens Oct. 1, 1982, showcasing innovations for tomorrow and nations of today.

Reaching nearly 17 stories high, Spaceship Earth will be the first “geosphere” ever.

Guests will set sail for “Tomorrow’s Harvest” aboard the “Listen to the Land” boat cruise in The Land.

In Horizons, guests will actually visit three-dimensional future habitats.

Guests will ride through World of Motion, a humorous look at the evolution of our “Freedom of Mobility.”

Colorful realms of creativity will be explored when guests ride through a Journey into Imagination.

Audio-Animatronics figures of Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain will host The American Adventure.

In the “Rose & Crown” pub of the United Kingdom pavilion, guests may feats of traditional British fare.

Within the majestic Mayan pyramid of the Mexico pavilion, guests will sail along “Rivers of Time.”

The towers of an ancient feudal fortress will be the dramatic backdrop for the Japan pavilion.

A new “Eiffel Tower” will rise above the boulevard shops filled with French products in the France pavilion.

CircleVision 360 surrounds guests with imagery of China in the People’s Republic of China pavilion.

Oktoberfest revelry will be enjoyed year-round at an authentic biergarten in the Germany pavilion.

30 July 2012

Often I dream of

This month, I issued a challenge to the Gazette Roundtable that I thought would spark an intriguing conversation around the age-old Adventureland debate, Dole Whip or Citrus Swirl. What I stumbled upon was an almost paralyzing brain freeze.

Some had never had a Citrus Swirl, while others hadn’t had a Dole Whip. Then there were those, I’m looking at you AJ, who gave me a good chuckle by comparing the decision to Sophie’s choice. In the end, only one member (aside from myself) could actually choose one and give a response. So, I’m going to give you their response below, as well as my own, but these responses are only the tip of the ice cream cone and a bit one-sided. All of this is to say that today, more than any roundtable before, is in desperate need of your thoughts!

Roundtable Topic: Which of the classic Adventureland ice cream treats, Dole Whip or Citrus Swirl, do you prefer and why?
Roundtable Contributors: Melissa Loflin (Makin’ Memories) and me.
Melissa – Yes, yes, I am one of those who never tasted a Citrus Swirl before. Scratch that off my Disney Bucket List because on July 10th I did my research for this roundtable.  Now a Dole Whip on the other hand I knew all too well. At least I thought I did. Let's go back to the good stuff.

Because my husband had yet to try a Dole Whip (we go pure pineapple, the only way to go Dole Whip in my opinion) or a Citrus Swirl I made him taste test both. When he took that first bite of the Citrus Swirl, after pausing a moment he turned to me and said he just had an "Anton Ego moment" (ala Ratatouille) where he immediately flashed back to his favorite childhood treat made by his mother: frozen orange juice Popsicles. I on the other hand flashed back to my favorite childhood ice cream treat, the orange creamsicle.

Now while I always thought I loved the Dole Whip, we neither had such a reaction. I had forgotten how tart it was, all good memories washed away by the Citrus Swirl.  I think my husband hit it on the nose when he related the whole experience to that resolution scene in Ratatouille. Food that takes you back and brings fun, happy memories to mind are the best foods. For us it was a no brainier; the winner is unmistakably the Citrus Swirl.

Ryan – For years I have pined for the Citrus Swirl of my childhood. In fact, early on in the Gazette’s life I made a plea to return from the sherbet and ice cream incarnation to its original form in a segment entitled Save Our Swirl (S.O.S.). It wasn’t long after that editorial that the Citrus Swirl disappeared from the Sunshine Tree Terrace for good.

I’d love to say that there were tears of joy when I heard the Citrus Swirl had returned last year, but there weren’t. The tears would have been less embarrassing that the rhythm-less spasming that I tried to pass off as a happy dance as I paraded around my house.

Between the loss and return of the Citrus Swirl, I had learned to appreciate the Dole Whip. The sweet bite of the pineapple infused soft serve was a unique combination that couldn’t be found elsewhere (except for Disneyland and more recently the Polynesian), and was a refreshing snack during a sweltering Magic Kingdom afternoon. But it was no Citrus Swirl.

Part memory, part Floridian heritage, part delicious. The mixing of orange concentrate and vanilla ice cream is genius! The Citrus Swirl is my sweet treat of choice when it comes to the Magic Kingdom, and I’m almost certain I’d pick over just about any other snack in Walt Disney World.

I may be partial to the Citrus Swirl, but the time that it was M.I.A. in the Magic Kingdom gave me an appreciation for the Dole Whip and those who love it. I know the Dole Whip dedicated are out there, and now is your chance to tell us all why you love the Aloha Isle Refreshments ice cream! And to all of the other Citrus Swirl aficionados, let us hear why you love this twisted Sunshine Tree Terrace sweet!

29 July 2012

Disney This Week - 29 July 2012

AJ Wolfe brings The Disney Food Blog news out of the Epcot International Food and Wine Preview.

Makin’ Memories and Melissa Loflin introduces us to Studios’ streetmosphere character, Stone Granite.

Jeremy Morrison explores the views and dishes of the Territory Lounge at Spins the World.

Eating WDW takes Sarah Holodick to the Turf Club for some appetizers.

Fritz at Imagineering Disney gives readers a bird’s eye view of the Polynesian Village’s construction.

Over at Mouse on the Mind, Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley receives a great gift that shows what you can do with those extra park maps after a trip.

Estelle Hallick gets up close and personal when she invites readers into her 16 year old self’s bedroom for a glimpse into growing up Disney at This Happy Place. I bet the 16 year old version of Estelle would be mortified…

George Taylor interviews Chris Strodder, author of Disneyland Encyclopedia, for Imaginerding.

27 July 2012

Choose your pets wisely

The exhibits of Disney’s Animal Kingdom have much to teach the guests who take the time to examine them. Conservation is the main message, but it takes on a variety of forms, from construction of habitats and symbiotic structures to the adaptations that animals develop over time. Even the smallest display can have the biggest impact. Such is the case of the Burmese Python that came to Conservation Station in 2007.

In 2007 Disney researchers were monitoring the endangered Key Largo Woodrat utilizing radio trackers. The researchers were on the trail of one of the tagged woodrats, but instead of finding the small rodent, the team stumbled upon a Burmese Python. The endangered woodrat had become a meal for the python!

As you can probably assume from their name, the Burmese Python is not native to Florida. Their homeland is in Southeast Asia, but people looking for exotic pets have begun bringing the creatures the States. When the pythons’ owners realize that they cannot care for them, they release the pythons into the wilds, which can drastically upset the local ecosystems.

The damage to local wildlife and the creatures who have been displaced from their natural homes can be severe, but can be eased when people take time to consider all the needs of their pets and their selves before bringing them home, not to mention state regulations. This seemingly minor enclosure in the Conservation Station has a lot to teach guests who take time to really study and internalize the messages of the park.

26 July 2012

Come one! Come all!

News out of Storybook Circus this week is that there will be a display kitchen as a part of Big Top Souvenirs when it opens later this year. Think the ability to watch candy apples and other treats comes from spending time in the Main Street Confectionery, Karamell-Küche, or Sweet Spells, but with a circus tent theme.

While the menu and details that we all know and love have yet to be announced, I’m willing to make a few wagers here. Let’s start with the menu, it is likely to have some sort of popcorn. I’d love to see popcorn balls, but I’m thinking more along the lines of the flavored variety, especially since we’ve seen similar snacks popping up in a cozy cone at Cars Land in Disney California Adventure. In that same vein, I wouldn’t be surprised to see something in the peanut family. I know the peanuts in the pavement of Storybook Circus are for and from the elephants, but a bag of warm peanuts and a flight aboard Dumbo does seem to be the perfect big top treat! Last, but not least, I’m banking on caramel apples.
In fact, of all the potential menu items, I am most certain of the caramel apples. Why, you ask? Well, it has to do with this handy dandy map that was hung in Storybook Circus as it began rolling out its attractions. Which also leads me to my other big top speculation, and that is that Humphrey the Bear will be intricately tied to the snacks of the circus. It may seem like a bit of a stretch, but can you really come up with another reason that Humphrey would be shown on the map with a ooey-gooey caramel apple clutched in his paw?

While I’d love to see a costumed Humphrey the Bear dipping apples in a vat of caramel, I think it is safe to say that it will be the Cast Members and not the hungry bear creating the snacks. Whatever comes out of the Big Top Souvenirs kitchen, I’m willing to bet it will follow in the footsteps of the recent move to change the culinary landscape of the Magic Kingdom and other Disney parks. The ideas and guesstimates already have my mouth watering and I think I can hear the tinny whistles of the circus calliope calling to me.

25 July 2012

Don't forget about breads

To those who are masters of the breakfast arts, there is a myriad of ways to start your day. Some prefer sweet, while others want something salty, and the syrupy and savory goodness of a plate of pancakes and sausages is pretty hard to beat! Today, we are heading down into the below ground level of The Land pavilion for a little advertise, but highly coveted, morning meal.

Future World’s go-to stop for one stop dining, whether it is for cupcakes, meats from a rotisserie, or Mickey waffles, is Sunshine Seasons in The Land. Breakfast platters fly from behind the counters here with clockwork-like regularity. The true indulgent morning dish, however, is the Croissant Berry Bread Pudding.
I am typically not a fan of bread puddings. The soggy, mushy bread plays havoc with the textures my palate finds appealing, and I’m rarely able to finish a serving, no matter what the other ingredients happen to be. With that in mind, when I read the word ‘croissant’ in the title of this breakfast or dessert entrée, I was immediately intrigued. This dish did not disappoint! Rather than mushy interior, the butteriness of the croissant meshes the flaky layers together and gives the pudding a great consistency that breaks apart easily.

The sugars from the berries, which are fresh and whole or in large segments, and the croissant create a great glaze that permeates the entire portion of the dish. Additionally, the sugary elements from the pudding caramelize extremely well, leaving just a hint of sweet crust that appears from time to time as you dig through the dish. The berries, while sweet, switch up the texture and add a bit of bitterness to the bread pudding.

In a Walt Disney World of waffles, French toast, and pancakes, the Croissant Berry Bread Pudding is a refreshing shift in breakfast pastry! A bit fruity, a lot sweet, and a creamy, butter consistency that is sure to please from the first to the last bite. Sunshine Seasons provides the perfect example of how looking beyond the main menu items can reveal truly unique and wonderful dishes!

24 July 2012

Return of the popular

There is an element of the Magic Kingdom that can fall into multiple clichés. Such as, “The more things change, the more things stay the same,” and, “Things come and things go.” In this case those ‘things’ both reference a great parade that has come and gone only to return again and returns repeatedly with fresh floats and looks. However, at its core, it is still the Main Street Electrical Parade.

The photograph below could have been taken yesterday, but it was, in fact, a part of the announcement that the Main Street Electrical Parade would be returning to Walt Disney World in November of 1977, just in time for Thanksgiving.
RETURN ENGAGEMENT FOR THANKSGIVING -- Walt Disney World will celebrate the Thanksgiving holidays with the return of the popular Main Street Electrical Parade, Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks and extended operating hours. The Main Street Electrical Parade will take place at 7 p.m. November 24 and 27, and at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. November 25 and 26. Fireworks will be presented at 10 p.m. November 25 and 26. Magic Kingdom operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. November 24 and 27, 9 a.m. to midnight November 25-26.

23 July 2012

Get your fame on

When we think back to the early days of Disney’s Hollywood Studios we often talk about the living studio with animation being put into motion each day. Guests were often treated to celebrity guest appearances where the film or television star would enshrine their hand and footprints, and the odd nose imprint or rocket impact, to be placed in from of the Chinese Theater, also known as The Great Movie Ride. The regular appearances of movie stars may have gone the way of the golden age of Hollywood, but the handprints are here to stay. Of course, if you want to see the hands of the rich and famous, there is another destination at Walt Disney World.
The Planet Hollywood Downtown Disney satellite, located on the border between Pleasure Island and West Side, features a kiosk that is covered in seemingly white and blue tiles. A closer inspection reveals many of the white tiles presents the handiwork of a recognizable star of the big or small screen. And by handiwork, I mean their handprints and occasional message.

The main difference between the prints at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Planet Hollywood, aside from the lack of footprints, is the name plaques affixed to each square. Most of the signatures on any of the tiles are legible, but there are those that cannot be read, rather than trying to puzzle out some of the signatures the plates immediately allow guests to know who prints they’re looking at.
There is nothing that can take away the special feeling guests can get while strolling the plaza in front of The Great Movie Ride searching for their favorite celebrities’ square, but it is nice to know it isn’t the only place in Walt Disney World to do a little stargazing! From Harrison Ford to Luke Perry, there is a healthy selection of movie star impressions that can’t be found at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which gives guests just one more reason to visit Downtown Disney.