30 September 2012

Disney This Week - 30 September 2012

EPCOT Center’s WorldKey is given the spotlight treatment by Imaginerding and George Taylor.

AJ Wolfe looks at the newest fare of the Food and Wine Festival at The Disney Food Blog.

The Sights and Sounds of Disney’s Hollywood Studios is explored by Melissa Loflin and Makin’ Memories.

Imagineering Disney continues its look at Walt Disney World in1971.
The winner of the Food and Wine Festival so far? According to Sarah Holodick at Eating WDW it is China’s Mongolian Beef in a Steamed Bun with Mango Tapioca Pudding.

Estelle Hallick digs into the stirring finale to IllumiNations – Reflections of Earth, We Go On, at This Happy Place.

The Grand Marnier Flight is a favorite of Jeremy Morrison and Spins The World, and now on my must do list.

28 September 2012

When it comes to safaris, we go wild

While on safari in the Harambe Wildlife Reserve as a part of Kilimanjaro Safaris, most guests are looking to the horizon for the breathtaking views while craning their necks to see what will be the next magnificent creature to share the road with the attraction’s jeeps. Me, I look down for rocks.

The Harambe Wildlife Reserve is a living, breathing part of our world and it is treated as such. Roads crisscross over one another, there are sunken in tire tracks, and evidence of elephant herds and indigenous people. An element of Kilimanjaro Safaris that is often overlooked by guests are the giant rocks that have been implanted into the ground at crossroads as directional markers. They can guide you to new natural features, such as lakes or maras (spotted savannas) or towards places to bed down for the night. Swahili is the most commonly utilized language in the reserve, so here are a few of my favorite stone signs and what they mean.

Kujikwaa Tembo Lodge - Stumbling Elephant Lodge
Tumbili Tented CampTented Monkey Camp
Lake NusuruLake Help
Ng’ombe Mara CampCattle Mara Camp

I left the word ‘Mara’ untranslated as it comes from the Maa word for spotted, which is the word they use to describe the sparsely vegetated plains. And, let’s be honest, Cattle Plain Spotted With Brush and Trees Camp just doesn’t have the same ring to it!

These aren’t the only stone markers along the road of Kilimanjaro Safaris, so the next time you are on safari, keep a watchful eye out for animals and other hints of the world your jeep has rolled into!

27 September 2012

Soon you will be airborne

In early July the tethered balloon known as Characters in Flight was grounded amid safety concerns stemming from an incident that occurred with another Aerophile, that company behind Characters in Flight, balloon in Hong Kong. Not only was the character clad balloon grounded, but it was also removed for an inspection. It was then announced that the balloon was due for replacement later this year and, even if the original balloon passed inspection, the Downtown Disney attraction would remain shuttered until the new balloon could be installed. Walt Disney World removed all mentions of the experience on its website immediately, leaving many to wonder if Characters in Flight would return at all.

I am happy to announce that a new balloon has been spotted at the Downtown Disney location this week! While there has been no official word on Characters in Flight, particularly relating to when testing will occur or when guests will once again be able to take to the skies over Walt Disney World, this is indeed wonderful news.

I won’t rehash all of my previous thoughts on the advantages and perceived disadvantages of Characters in Flight. However, if you’d like to read the original story, which includes my thoughts on Characters in flight as a whole, I direct you over to You could fly to a plaza.

26 September 2012

Rich and sweet

I’ve come to expect cupcakes from Starring Rolls that are monuments to Hollywood, that is big, flashy, and full of style! Starring Rolls has become my go to spot for top tier cupcakes, so when I saw that they were offering a new cupcake when I was there a couple of weeks ago, I was ready to jump in!

When you hear the words ‘carrot cake’ and ‘Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ you automatically think of the Carrot Cake Cookie from Writer’s Stop, but Starring Rolls is now offering up its own version with the Carrot Cupcake. I was a bit taken aback by the Mickey confetti sprinkles, but the candied pecans were more than enough to help me overcome my trepidation.

The pecans add the perfect amount of chewy and crunchy texture and bittersweet to the Carrot Cupcake. The frosting that holds the pecans on is two-toned, white and orange, cream cheese frosting. It is rich and creamy, though not as smooth as I would have liked. The sprinkles are fine, but I could most certainly do without them. My only assumption is that the sprinkles are utilized so that the Cast Members can tell the Carrot Cupcake apart from other cupcakes that are similar in appearance.

The carrot cake base of the Carrot Cupcake is dry and uninspired. I can tell all of the classic elements of carrot cake are present, but it just doesn’t seem to have anything that calls your attention to it and leaves a lasting impression. Starring Rolls’ Carrot Cupcake could do with the recipe for the Carrot Cake Cookies, using their cake as the basis for the cupcake.

I hope everyone taking part in the Cupcake Crawl being put on by The Disney Food Blog has a great time this weekend. However, when you get to Starring Rolls, may I recommend a cupcake other than the Carrot Cupcake? Say, perhaps, a Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcake!

25 September 2012

It's a sponge cake

The 15th anniversary of Walt Disney World, most commonly known by the name of its special stage show, 15 Years of Magic, had plenty of unique displays, parades, shows, and giveaways. Events were held throughout 1986 and 1987. Earlier in 1986, EPCOT Cetner welcomed its first guests to the amazing underwater world and exhibits of The Living Seas. A joint celebration that could embrace the new and revel in the resort’s past was inevitable.
While no candles, or flares, were lit in the watery habitats, there was a giant cake placed for all the guests and fish to see! Aesthetically pleasing to guests, I was one of the many children who thought the faux cake looked delicious and wished I could have a piece, this cake was truly for the fishes. If asked, Cast Members informed guests that this special treat was, in fact, a sponge cake. While groan-worthy, it is these little jokes for a celebration that takes place property-wide that I miss!

24 September 2012

A real feast for your eyes

For many years, books about the parks were relegated to souvenir books filled with glossy photos and phrases or technical volumes produced solely for the most dedicated of fans, but not books that could be appreciated by everyone, including those unfamiliar with Disney’s collection of theme parks. In recent years, however, there has been a movement to make books more accessible, the culmination of which is the recent release Poster Art of the Disney Parks.
This oversized book was written by a pair of Imagineers, Danny Handke and Vanessa Hunt, who clearly have a passion for the parks and the art created by and for them. Poster Art of the Disney Parks divides its 146 pages amongst nine chapters with dedicated sections for the various lands of the Kingdom style parks (Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, New Orleans Square and Liberty Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland). Additional chapters focus on Tokyo DisneySea, Disney California Adventure, and an introductory chapter exploring the process and history of the Disney posters.
A majority of the book’s text comes from in the first chapter where everything from Walt’s park design mentality to the how a poster progresses through the printing procedure is given due page space. What I love most about this section is the study of where and how attraction posters have been displayed in various parks, including the coming attractions area of the Kingdoms, in marquees in front of their respective attractions, and even in Disney films! From there, each individual chapter introduces the land they are responsible for with quotes from Walt Disney, Michael Eisner, and Bob Weis, the thoughts behind some of the poster designs across the parks, especially where attractions are based in several parks, and the rationale behind the need for the posters at all.
The true meat of the Poster Art of the Disney Parks, however, is the posters themselves. Each chapter is a stroll through the parks, both past and present. There are posters included here that I haven’t seen since my childhood, such as this one for the Grand Prix Raceway, that have been burned into my memories and are even more beautiful than I remember and I am so happy to see them again. Handke and Hunt do an excellent job of including as many posters as possible, only allowing for one poster where an identical poster, save the park’s name, is used in multiple parks. These dedicated Imagineers arduously uncovered and credited the artists where available and even showcased concept posters that never came to fruition or the concept to reality process for some of the posters they do have.
If I have to find one complaint of Poster Art of the Disney Parks, and believe me when I say this is splitting hairs, it is that I’d love to see each poster given the full page treatment. Of course we’d then be looking at a 500-page behemoth instead of the perfectly sized 146-page volume we have today. That’s only because I would love to be able to pour over the minute details in each poster, and not really using common sense.
This art and history book has something for everyone. It can be used to ramp up the anticipation of a family preparing to make a trip to a Disney Park. It is an introductory lesson for artists looking to get into media advertising. It is a treasured walk through the parks for those of us who have spent so much time in and around the parks’ and their history. In the opening of Poster Art of the Disney Parks we are told that the posters are utilized to “entice, excite, and educate Guests with a preview of the adventures and experiences inside the Park.” If this is the goal of the individual posters, than this collection from Hunt and Handke is exponentially successful.

I highly recommend everyone rush out and pick up a copy of Poster Art of the Disney Parks just as soon as you can!