30 June 2015

Memorable Moments from United States History

Everyone get through yesterday’s required reading of America on Parade? Great! Today’ let us present you with the entire fact sheet Disney released on the presentation. There’s a lot to gleam from this document, not just the dates and concept for the parade, but the actual full breakdown of individual characters, floats, and musical accompaniment. But that’s enough chatter about it, let’s start the parade of information.

29 June 2015

The Celebration of Independence

We’ve talked quite a bit about America on Parade throughout the years, but we’re dedicating the entire week leading up to the Fourth of July to Disney’s Bicentennial celebration. Fact sheets, musical history, and even vintage press releases are all coming up later in the week. Before we get going, and to set the stage appropriately, let’s take a look back at previous articles.

A dazzling, fun-filled pageant – Our original look at what comprised America on Parade.

People of America – Examining the unique doll-inspired figures from the parade.

The whole story of America – An exploration of the Little Golden Book featuring Donald Duck’s viewing of the parade.

Historical Proudly Uproarical Fourth – A pair of glimpses into the parade itself.

New tags on the way – Even Cast Members had special nametags to celebrate the event.

25 June 2015

Patriot's Punch Bowl

Independence Day is next weekend. There will be parades, fireworks, friends and family in the back yard, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, and maybe even an adult beverage or two. While you’re planning out your menu for the Fourth of July backyard barbeque you’ll likely get stuck on the question of how to spice up the children’s beverage selection? Let’s head over to Liberty Tree Tavern for a suggestion.

Sitting in the shadow of the Liberty Tree herself, the Liberty Tree Tavern has always had a specialty drink fit for the pint-sized patriotic sippers, or those just looking to try something a bit different than the usual Magic Kingdom beverage selection. The current version is known as Patriot’s Punch and mixes a couple of citrus flavors together, but let’s go a bit further back. For our homemade brew from the Liberty Tree Tavern, we’ve ventured down the Freedom Trail back to when I was a kid and I couldn’t wait to order the Tavern Lemon Sherbet Punch.

It is as simple to put together as the name suggests, so let’s dig in to the recipe!



Juice from 4 Lemons
2 Quarts Club Soda
2 Quarts Lemon Sherbet


Place lemon juice, club soda, and lemon sherbet in a blender and blend until smooth.
Serve over ice.
Garnish with fresh strawberries.

Like I said, simple right?

I do have a couple of notes from the preparation. First off, this will make a gallon punch. I attempted a half batch, but even that was a stretch to fit in my blender. It also starts separating fairly quickly. With those two things in mind, I would recommend making this in quarter batches and serving as needed.

Otherwise this was an easy and straightforward preparation that took mere minutes to complete. With appropriate supervision you could even let the kids take part in putting it all together. Juicing the lemons, measuring out ingredients, and getting to push the magic blending button (only after they’ve been told to) are all easy ways to give kids a sense of accomplishment and it’ll even make the drink taste better to them!

On the taste note, it really is delicious. It isn’t nearly as sweet as you would think a punch would be. It comes across as more of a frosted lemonade that is a little bitter with a touch of sweetness. The strawberries add some nice accent color, texture, and vary up the flavors just a bit.

The punch would cut through the saltiness of potato chips and hot dogs easily, and will definitely leave patriots young and old asking for seconds. I hope you take a few minutes to throw together a batch of the Tavern Lemon Sherbet Punch. It’s a blast from the Liberty Tree Tavern's past, in the best way possible!

24 June 2015

Watch Out for Goofy

Goofy has a long history of playing in the water at Walt Disney World. One of his first watery endeavors were the water-skiing shows on the Seven Seas Lagoon, but that ended up only be a part-time gig until he found a permanent home in the waters of Bay Cove. When River County opened in June of 1976, Goofy was front and center to welcome guests.

In the early years, Goofy could be seen taking a plunge down Whoop ‘N Holler Hollow, in his full-length, one-piece swimsuit that harkened back to fashionable swimwear of an earlier age. There were times when he was accompanied in the swimmin’ hole by Chip, Dale, and Disney’s other playful pup, Pluto.

As the park entered into its second decade of operation, Walt Disney World had two other behemoth water parks that were entice guests away from the original water park, River County. Rumors began to swirl that the gator icon of Blizzard Beach, Ice Gator, had become such a hit that the other water parks should follow suit. While Typhoon Lagoon would get a gator of its very own, Goofy would hold the fort down over at River Country until the park closed for good.

That isn’t to say that River Country didn’t find creative ways to get guests through the gates. In the 1990s the park launched the All-American Water Party headlined by, you guessed it, Goofy. His days of actually plunging into the water were over, but Goofy always knew how to make an entrance. Typically he would arrived via some sort of watercraft or on horseback. His All-American duds included jeans, a flannel shirt, and a stovepipe hat in an American flag motif. The party included giveaways, games, and a whole lot of feet stomping music from the live band, complete with banjo. Of course, a party isn’t a party without guests, and Chip, Dale, Pluto, and even Minnie were regular fixtures. One of the more rare characters in the Vacation Kingdom stables even made an appearance, I’m talking about Goofy’s son, Max, of course.

These days Goofy’s trademark skills in and around the waterways of Walt Disney World have mostly fallen by the wayside as he has become more recognizable as the Great Goofini, a high-flying ace with a penchant for daredevil stunts that always seem to go awry. Whatever your feelings on River Country or Goofy, I’m almost willing to bet you can’t think back on Disney’s first water park without it conjuring up a memory or two of Goofy.

18 June 2015

The Convenience of Travelers

This may be one of those articles where you shake your head and try to figure out why I would have even bothered to take this photo. I’m never entirely sure myself, but let’s start with setting the scene today, shall we. This sign is affixed to one of the pillars outside of the restrooms in Harambe. You know the building, right? It is the one that is listed as the Port Authority.

Any guest of Disney’s Animal Kingdom can tell you that this main thoroughfare of Africa can get pretty congested in the blink of an eye. It is definitely an area in need of a sign that proclaims “NO PARKING,” in big bold letters. What really drew me in, however, was the Swahili text beneath. Always wondering how messages are presented in other cultures I was immediately interested to find out what, precisely, “Hapana Kuweka Magari” meant. Depending on who you get your translation from there is a little variation, but the long and short of it is “No Set Vehicles.” Basically, “No Parking,” got it!

Of course there aren’t a lot of automobiles coming through this area, but the parking and vehicles that they are worried about aren’t mopeds, motorcycles, or cars taking up prime real estate in the heart of Harambe. What they are concerned about is taking a congested area and gumming up the works with strollers being left unattended while other guests try to shimmy through the maze of child-sized transport vehicles. So, the next time you need to stop off at the Port Authority, just remember, “HAPANA KUWEKA MAGARI!”

16 June 2015

The Cup That Will Transport You - Part V

We've reached the final set of the take home Walt Disney World coffee blends from Joffrey's. It's been a lot of pots of coffee, but I hope you've enjoyed the series as much as we've enjoyed putting it together for you. Hopefully you've been inclined to grab a bag of Joffrey's for yourself and feel like you were relaxing on vacation, even if you were just tucked away on your own porch reliving fond memories. Let's get this show on the road turn it over to the missus one last time. Aileen Sheehan-Wilson, take it away!

Flying Fish (Dark) – Watch out for flying fish. Seriously. You never know what you'll see in the show kitchen off this energetic eatery where fresh seafood is the star. But it's the caramelized banana napoleon on the dessert menu that really caught our attention. So we dark roasted a Viennese-style blend of 100% Specialty Grade Arabica Beans with a wonderfully smooth caramel profile and smoky overtones to go with it. Clean and pleasant to the finish, it has very good acidity for a dark roast. It's a delicious choice for brewing conventionally or as an Espresso.

What Aileen Tastes:
We have another dark roast. At this point, we all know that I enjoyed drinking it but I would like to go on record stating that it was less bitter than some of the other dark roasts that I have sampled. I agreed with tasting notes and definitely got both the smooth caramel and smoky undertones in my taste test. I believe this would be a great coffee for someone who thinks that they hate dark roasts. It was smooth and not the least bit overpowering. This is a coffee I would consider ordering again. 

Narcoossee's (Dark) – We literally circumnavigated the globe to find the 100% Specialty Grade Arabica Beans to blend for Narcoossee’s, a spectacular seafood restaurant you’ll discover just off the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon. A rich dark roast from Central America. Lively citrus notes from Africa. And a silky smooth bean all the way from Indonesia. Its aroma begs to be carried on an ocean breeze. And the long, lingering finish is ready-made for the almond-crusted cheesecake with Lambert cherry sauce.

What Aileen Tastes:
This roast was my least favorite of the bunch but I still would recommend it to others. This dark roast was bright and citrusy and I believe it would pair well with seafood. This is a positive since it is served at one of the best seafood restaurants on Disney property. I didn’t love this as my morning coffee, but would enjoy it at the end of a meal with a light, fruity dessert.

Victoria & Albert's (Full) – “Something rare.” That was our answer to the question, “What coffee could possibly live up to the standards set by Victoria & Albert’s?” After all, this is no ordinary restaurant. It’s received the AAA Five Diamond Award® every year since 2000. Its exclusive Chef’s Table has hosted royalty. Its menu, that is American cuisine with classic influences, changes often and is inspired by the freshest seasonal ingredients on the global market. So we worked closely with the chefs to select a single-origin coffee just as rare: beans from Celebes, now called Sulawesi, a remote Indonesian island, that produces a coffee that is quite unique in its rich chocolate and nutty overtones. Brewed at the table using the centuries-old siphon method, it’s not the finish to the Victoria & Albert’s experience, but an integral part of it.

What Aileen Tastes:
This roast is a single-origin bean from an Indonesian Island called Sulawesi (formally Celebes) and at Victoria & Albert’s this coffee is brewed table side using the siphon method. Unfortunately, I only had my regular coffee maker for my taste test, but I will say that I enjoyed drinking it and felt that it has a smooth character that pairs well with any meal. It holds a strong place in the middle of the pack for me.

Today’s Cup of Disney Rankings:
1 – Flying Fish
2 – Victoria & Albert's
3 – Narcoossee's

Overall Cup of Disney Rankings:
1 – French Bistro
2 – California Grill
3 – Flying Fish Espresso
4 – Flying Fish
5 – Yachtsman Steakhouse
6 – Kona Blend
7 – Citricos
8 – Victoria & Albert's
9 – Narcoossee's
10 – Tusker House
11 – Jiko
12 – Artist Point
13 – Flavors of Africa
14 – Hollywood Blend
15 – The Wave

Previous Reviews:

11 June 2015

Prehistoric Era Comes Alive

If you’ve ever venture over to the information bulletin board in Dinoland U.S.A., you’ve seen the wacky results of interns having too much access to paper and pens. One piece in particular that may have caught your eye is the hand drawn map of the area by Jenny Weinstein. If you examine the map closely, it may look a little outdated to you. There is not Chester and Hester’s Dion-Rama and in its place you find the Dinosaur Jubilee and the Fossil Preparation Lab. These two areas were overlooked or passed through quickly by the average guests, but offered a prehistoric world of treasures.

Let’s start with the Fossil Preparation Lab. In this area scientists were hard at work preparing the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex specimen ever found. This preparation included removing rock and sediment from the bones themselves and getting them ready for casts to be made. The site at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was one of two laps working on Sue. The other could be found in the Field Museum in Chicago. Once all the pieces were ready, and the casts made, Sue took up residence in the Field Museum and now travels the world. One of the cast models was erected right outside of Dinosaur. You can still see Sue frozen in time as she charges towards the front doors of the Dino Institute.

The Dinosaur Jubilee was a much larger structure and housed many other dinosaur related activities. Guests could touch casts of a Triceratops’ (my favorite dinosaur) femur, get up close and personal with a tyrannosaurus rex’s skull, and even examine the fossilized victims from the guts of a dinosaur predator. Hopefully, guests visited this area after lunch, and not before. In addition to the hands-on exhibits, the Cast Members portraying the student interns would give zany tours of the Jubilee and point guests in the direction of more dino-sized fun through Dinoland.

These two specimens of dinosaur edutainment would shutter by end of the year 2000; one because the fossil preparation work had been completed, the other so that Dino-Rama had plenty of space for its carnival attractions. These two sections of Dinoland U.S.A. had a lot to do with engaging guests with real world aspects of the dinosaur experience, and likely unearthed a budding paleontologist or two. I think there was something very valuable to both of these attractions and would love to see them come back in some form or another.

Heck, I even here that there’s a little movie about dinosaurs in a theme park coming to the big screen this weekend. Maybe now is the perfect time to put the dinosaurs back in Dinoland U.S.A.!

03 June 2015

Space Vehicle

Horizons was, perhaps, the pavilion that brought together all the ideas of tomorrow from throughout Future World and placed them in one succinct story. Transportation, agriculture, energy, imagination, communication, and even exploration were all themes that played throughout Horizons. During EPCOT Center’s planning and development, however, Horizons wasn’t on the drawing board and in its place stood a behemoth of an attraction known as the Space Pavilion.

Don’t believe me about the size? Then take a closer look at the size of the guests entering the structure at the base of the pavilion. To my eye, the height of that entryway looks close to that of Horizons, leaving the spacecraft to reach for the stars, both figuratively and literally.

In this rendition, EPCOT Center would have had wayfinding signage that didn’t list pavilions, but mapped out the entire park and identified what pavilion you were currently visiting. If you look closely, the original location of the pavilion would have been where The Living Seas would eventually reside.

The real story here isn’t the size of the Space Pavilion or where it lived, but what it sought to teach guests.

The pavilion wasn’t a spaceship or rocket, it was known as the Space Vehicle. It was designed by Ray Bradbury and John De Cuir, Senior, and would have launched guests from the early days when man looked up to the stars and dreamed, all the way to the edge of the universe. The vehicle itself would have housed the massive theater that would utilize visual and in-theater effects to simulate space travel.

Beyond these scant few facts, not much else is known about this pavilion that never came to be. While it was included in the 1977 Master Plan 5 for EPCOT Center, it would continually get pushed back, beyond the opening of Horizons, The Living Seas, and Wonders of Life, before eventually being shelved altogether. It isn’t hard to see how the Space Pavilion informed sections of Horizons’ story and further on down the road the development of Soarin’, but that trip to the stars sure would have been an adventure of a lifetime.