31 August 2012

Real, ancient, or imagined

Once upon a time, in the grand realm known as Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there was to be a land, a land known as Beastly Kingdom. Beastly Kingdom would welcome myths and legends and creatures beyond your wildest imaginations! But alas, Beastly Kingdom would only ever be as mythical as those creatures that were to inhabit it. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t glimmers still cast about that show us what might have been.

Casting aside the dragon on the logo for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I want to look at the physical pieces that are still strewn about the park, specifically around Camp Minnie-Mickey, that still hold a bit of the history for this once proposed land. Let’s start with this ominous cavern…
This is the lair of a dragon if I’ve ever seen one! This was one of those tantalizing details that made guests start to wonder what could be awaiting them when the major additions finally arrived at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The dragon’s lair had life to it at one point in time, as fierce inhabitant would roar at guests as they passed by aboard one of the now defunct Discovery River Boats.
A little bit closer to the bridge for Camp Minnie-Mickey sits this fellow. The outlet for the stream that runs through Camp Minnie-Mickey is formed by a tumbling of rocks that have the odd appearance of a dragon/giant lizard. Is it just your eyes playing tricks on you, or is this rockwork the perfect guardian and greeter for what was once slated to become Beastly Kingdom?

Many guests, whether they are aware of the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Beastly Kingdom, stumble upon one or both of the previous entries in this article as they make their way to Camp Minnie-Mickey. However, you really have to crane yourself over the side of the bridge to catch a glimpse of the ruins that were once to be the boundary of Beastly Kingdom.
These ruins of stacked blocks and intricately carved shape patterns are a bit out of place for a summer camp inspired by the Adirondacks, but they would have fit in perfectly for an area that took guests to far-off lands populated by ancient and legendary creatures.

Beastly Kingdom may have been born out of the ideas found in storybooks of long ago, but not all of its notions stayed on those pages. Some of the craftier elements found a way to escape into our world of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and I’m certainly glad they did and that these small nods to the concept still remain!

30 August 2012

We're just about ready to hit the track

There has been some news out of Test Track this week, coming in the form of a Disney Parks Blog chat with Imagineer Melissa Jeselnick. Here are the highlights along with my personal thoughts:

The track layout will remain the same. – After the headaches Imagineers were presented with when World of Motion became the first iteration of Test Track and the ride had to be shoehorned into the already constructed building, it doesn’t really come as a surprise to me that Disney wouldn’t want to change the track layout this time around.

Each person or group that designed a car will be able to track their progress as they make their way through the attraction in the ride vehicle, a sim car. – I wonder about how this will be achieved. Will it be code names like Sum of All Thrills? Will each seat have a monitor? Will you have a card with your specifications saved on it? A lot of interesting possibilities and wonderful daydreams to be had with this idea until the attraction opens!

Scoring on the four critical components (Capability, Efficiency, Responsiveness, and Speed) will be done in stages throughout the attraction with a final score. – This seems like they’ve finally given simple definitions to all of the elements that were test previously (albeit in an entirely new setting). The ability to track your score throughout and after the attraction has the video game (a la Toy Story Midway Mania, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, etc.) written all over it!

The queue is switching gears from the testing arena of the previous incarnation into a design space where guests will design their own vehicle, but also see how Chevrolet designs vehicles. It will include design artwork and pieces directly from Chevrolet. – Designing your own ride vehicle is very cool, but I’m really interested in spending time perusing the items that Chevrolet is pulling back the curtain on. Any time you put together history and design, you have piqued my interest.

Guests are not traveling through the world of TRON, but the idea of what a computer looks and feels like on the inside was the inspiration for the design of the attraction. – Considering this is the line of thought we are presented with in the opening minutes of TRON: Legacy, I suspect it will have a TRON-like feel to it whether that was the intent or not. Who wouldn’t want to imagine their jamming through a digital environment on a lightcycle?!?!

The design will feature physical elements in addition to projection and video modules. – Disney has been getting better and better at interfusing physical set pieces with visual effects (see Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom), so I’m curious to see how this plays out in a large scale environment.

New soundtrack. – I’m a lover of all things musical in Walt Disney World, so any time there is a new soundtrack I can’t wait to hear it. I’m imagining a hybrid of Daft Punk’s TRON: Legacy score interfused with metallic beats reminiscent of sound=music experiences such as Stomp.

New signage. – Very clean and slick design.

So, there are my thoughts on the current state of Test Track. How excited or saddened are you about the upcoming reopening? What do you think the new attraction will be like? Let’s hear it!

29 August 2012

Clean plate club

It’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios night in your house and you want to put together a great meal for the occasion. You’re in luck because here at the Main Street Gazette we have two dishes to serve up from 50’s Prime Time Cafe! A couple of years back we gave you the recipe and showed you how to prepare Mom’s Meatloaf, today we’re heading back to where mom learned to cook, and that’s Grandma and Grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie!

Let’s start with the recipe:



3 Cups Milk (or Half and Half)
2 Cups Chicken Tenderloins (Uncooked)
1 Cup Broccoli (Florets)
1 Cup Parmesan cheese (Grated)
½ Cup Carrots (Cubed)
½ Cup Celery (Cubed)
¼ Cup Leeks (Diced)
3 Tbsps. Butter
3 Tbsps. Flour
2 Bouillon Cubes (Chicken)
2 Sheets Pastry Dough
1 Egg (Beaten)


Preheat oven to 400°F.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
In boiling salted water, simmer chicken tenderloins, broccoli, carrots, celery, and leeks until chicken is fully cooked and vegetables are tender, but still firm (approximately 15 minutes).
Drain well and set aside.
In a medium sized skillet, melt butter and add flour.
Cook for 5 minutes and add milk or half-and-half.
Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened (approximately 10 minutes).
Dissolve chicken bouillon cubes in 1/4 cup warm water and add to sauce.
Blend in grated Parmesan cheese and remove from heat.
Add cooked chicken and vegetables and mix well.
Line a deep dish pie plate with one sheet of pie dough.
Pour mixture into a deep-dish pie plate and cover with second sheet of pie dough.
Seal edges, place a few cuts into the top layer of dough, and brush top with beaten egg.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes until crust is golden brown and the filling is hot.
Brushing a little milk on the top of the pie dough before baking will add color to the crust.

Here are a few prep tips that the recipe doesn’t give you. We chose to cook our pieces of chicken as whole tenderloin and then shred them before we added them to the sauce, the other option would be to cube the chicken first before adding it to the boiling water. While you can buy grated Parmesan, I grated my own, but that is a personal choice. Additionally, in the future I would likely use chicken stock instead of bouillon cubes (The missus wants me to let you know that there are some national brands of bouillon cubes that use MSG [no, not the Main Street Gazette]).
Viola! You have a pot pie that your mother and her mother before her would be proud of, and it is the perfect accompaniment to, say, the Wizard of Oz. The pot pie is creamy and is all the elements are fork tender, but not mushy. The cheese adds a great bit of sharpness to the dish, while the crust is golden and flakey. Grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie is even better at work or as leftovers, as all of the components have thickened up and had more time to mingle their flavors together! I’d probably add in a few other vegetables next time, such as potatoes and onions, but this is a great meal that hits me right in my southern food comfort zone!

I hope you take the time to plan an evening around Disney’s Hollywood Studios (please, send us pictures if you do!), and that your first pot pie comes out as well as mine did!

If you are so inclined, you can see the step by step preparations below.

28 August 2012

Like to extend your vacation?

It’s 1979. Since you checked into your resort you’ve been busy taking part of all the entertainment, attractions, and recreation of the Vacation Kingdom, but you finally decide to sit and relax for a few minutes and read the complimentary issue of Walt Disney World News. As if you needed the extra nudge, you find a couple of ads reminding you the Mouseketeer Clubhouses where your children could have an evening away while you and your significant other had a special night out. The only problem is that you’re supposed to leave in the morning, if only there were a way to extend your stay…
I’m fairly certain we have all fallen victim to the persuasive powers of one of Walt Disney World’s ads, whether it is for a splash at a water park, a dinner show, or extending your stay. The form in which the offers appear may have changed over the years, but I still love these classic designs!