28 June 2013

T-Rex at Dig Site

DionLand, U.S.A. was once a sleepy little corner of Diggs County. Then, in 1947, the first dinosaur fossil was unearthed. Since then, plenty of other fossilized remains have been found. The Boneyard is where current excavations are taking place, and for those of you looking to track down the live digs, the bulletin board shows what has been found, and where it can be found on the grid. Of course, there are no digital photographs in the dig site, no siree! In fact, there are nothing but Polaroids pin to this bulletin board! The question is, which fossil are you on the hunt for on your next excavation?

27 June 2013

World News Roundtable - 27 June 2013

Roundtable Contributors: Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog), Alan Mize, Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com), Andrew (Disney Hipsters Blog), and yours truly. 

Monsters Gross

Alan Mize 

Pixar did it again!  Not that I'm surprised.  This past weekend, Monsters University grossed $82 million dollars to win the domestic box office battle on its opening weekend.  This makes 14 opening weekend wins for Pixar's 14 films which is a very impressive run.  This also marked the second highest domestic opening for a Pixar film behind 2010's Toy Story 3. 

I contributed $18 of the $82 million dollars this past weekend, and while I don't normally enjoy prequels or sequels, I enjoyed this one.  I thought they did a good job connecting the two stories.  The plot, while predictable, was enjoyable and the characters had heart.  I've seen 13 of the 14 Pixar films (sorry Cars 2), and I'd rank this one squarely in the middle of bunch.  If you haven't already gone out to see it, take the opportunity to see it.  It's worth it.

Annette Funicello Stage

Andrew (Disney Hipsters Blog)

I was heartbroken earlier this year when Disney Legend Annette Funicello passed away.  Nothing says Disney quite like the original Mickey Mouse Club.  The essence of the company in the early days was defined by this program, including its standout star Annette.  Earlier this week Stage 1, where they taped the Mickey Mouse Club, was renamed the Annette Funicello Stage in her honor.  In attendance at the dedication were fellow Mouseketeers, as well as Richard Sherman who penned some of her biggest hits.  Later, a presentation on the stars career was given by Disney historian Leonard Maltin.  A fitting tribute to one of the earliest Disney stars.

Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)

Disney Channel will begin to air new Mickey Mouse short films this weekend, and there's a big difference in the iconic Disney character: his voice. Chris Diamantopoulos from Arrested Development and The Office is the voice of Mickey in the new cartoons, bringing a plucky, mischievous take to the character that is more akin to the early Mickey of the '30s than the golden boy persona he's been portrayed as in more recent efforts.

Bret Iwan is still considered the official voice of Mickey Mouse; Diamantopoulos's connection is limited to these new shorts for Disney Channel. Nonetheless, I find this change very peculiar. Disney is usually very strict about their characters' voices, not switching them for decades at a time. Why change Mickey's just for this project when Iwan has only been on the job for four years, especially if all the other characters in the new shorts have their same voices? Diamantopoulos sounds fine, but the decision in general is very un-Disney.

Nonetheless, you can catch Mickey and the gang all summer long in delightful new adventures (they are really fantastic) every Friday at 8:30 starting June 28 on Disney Channel. Or you can catch them on the exquisite new(ish) Disney Video website, where two of the shorts are already live.

Bingo! Beach Blanket Time!

Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog)

I haven't been this excited since High School Musical. (Yes, that was a serious sentence.) When Teen Beach Movie premieres on The Disney Channel on July 19, you will bet I will be ready with my popcorn in hand. The "beach movie" is something we haven't seen in awhile (though it might be a different story if you've been to the Sci-Fi Restaurant in Hollywood Studios recently) and I like that Disney is hoping to revitalize the genre as well as make it seem like a brand new thing to the younger crowd.

To be honest, I'm not thinking too much about that. I see dancing, I hear singing and I am all in. Can the beach movie become a thing again? I guess if vampires could, sure... there's truth to that. But maybe all we want is an easy breezy summer movie to make us happy.

Though, I wish the title was just a bit more creative...

Ryan P. Wilson (Main Street Gazette)

In what should come as no surprise to anyone, especially if you turned on any radio or news channel this past weekend, the Supermoon was visible all throughout Walt Disney World early Sunday morning. For its part, Disney decided the best photo to take of the lunar event was with Spaceship Earth, and I don’t know many people who would think that to be the incorrect subject pairing. It got me thinking about the time I saw an Atlas Rocket launch while I was in World Showcase, or the press photographs of the Space Shuttle taking to the skies behind Mission: SPACE.

Once upon a time the theme parks of Disney and didn’t just play connect the dots with the stars and the planets and the wonders of space exploration, they were on the cutting edge and, in rare instances, ahead of the curve. Tomorrowland has since become the golden age of exploration that never was and never will be, but Epcot is the perfect backdrop. Not for staged photographs of astronomical events, but for true to the park’s mission of propelling life into the next century with attractions grounded in current science fact and proposed scientific theory. If Epcot needs one thing in this day and age it is the grand ideas, the same type of ideas that once led a man to take a small step out onto the moon.

26 June 2013

Platinum Moonshine

Aside from the Cucumber Margarita at La Cava del Tequila, I don’t often have a specific adult beverage in mind when I set off for a trip to Walt Disney World. In May, however, there was one that I just had to try! It may have the word margarita in its name, but it is a night and day experience from my cucumber staple in Epcot. Let’s start with why this yet to be named beverage was on my radar at all.

Western North Carolina, the corner of the country that I call home, has a long history of brewing and distilling. Given the title of Beer City U.S.A. on several occasions and home to a plethora of breweries, the area in and around Asheville, NC is home to the Asheville Distilling Co., Troy & Sons. A friend let me know that they had read in Troy & Sons newsletter that the corn distilled liquor, known to many as moonshine, had begun being served in Walt Disney World. In particular I found that it was being served up at the Wilderness Lodge, as if I needed an excuse to visit the Wilderness Lodge.

What is this beverage you ask? It is known as the Moonshine Margarita and is exclusively on the spirits menu for Whispering Canyon Cafe. I let you in on a little secret though, if you visit the Territory Lounge, as I did, they can whip one up for you too. It is comprised of Troy & Sons Platinum Moonshine, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, and a dash of soda water.

For those of you that have this image in your head of an astringent drink from Mason jar that may cause blindness, put those fears aside. This isn’t your father’s bootlegged beverage. Territory Lounge presents a drink that is very sweet and very smooth. The prime difference between the corn liquor drink and a typical tequila margarita is that the tequila has more weight to it your mouth, at least this is the way it seemed to me. There is a bit of a sour twinge from the lime juice, the sweet notes of the elderflower eases that tang right out of your mouth.

While I recommend the Moonshine Margarita for the uninitiated, there is more Troy & Sons available on the Territory Lounge’s menu. The other selection comes in the form of the moonshine flight featuring the Platinum (featured in the Moonshine Margarita), Oak Reserve, and Blonde Whiskey varieties available from the distiller. To my mind, this is as close as you can get to the Western North Carolina experience in Walt Disney World, especially given the setting of the resort.

I hear that there is more collaboration in the works between Troy & Sons and Walt Disney World, but we’ll have to wait and see what is coming down the line for now. That, however, does not mean we are done with the Territory Lounge. For some of the tastiest vitals this side of Bay Lake, you’ll have to check back in with us next week!