28 April 2016

A Story We Are Living Every Day

Last week in the hubbub surrounding the announcement of what will and won’t be included during the summer season at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the celebration of the park’s 18th anniversary, and the signing by Joe Rohde something may have been missed. Yes, Joe Rohde was signing his awesome artwork, but he was also signing a book. From every outward indication this is a coffee table book with some wonderful wildlife photographs and maybe some insight into Disney’s animal programs and conservation efforts. It is, in fact, so much more than that.

Let’s start with some basics, The Disney Conservation Fund: Carrying Forward a Conservation Legacy was created by John Baxter. This is Baxter’s second book for Disney Editions, his first being the engaging read, Disney During World War II. While Baxter is the main voice here, there are plenty of others chiming in. Isabella Rosellini, Dr. Jane Goodall, the aforementioned Mr. Rohde, Dr. Jackie Ogden, Dr. Beth Stevens, Bob Iger, and even Walt Disney himself are just a few of the individuals tapped to share a few words over the course of the book.

The book doesn’t have chapters, per se, but it is easy to find four distinct segments within the 144 page volume.

The opening section is a history of how we have arrived at this point in Disney’s conservation efforts. We start with Walt’s love of nature and the True-Life Adventures before being led through a progression that includes Disneynature, the ideas of Disney’s Wild Animal Kingdom, the creation of the park we know today, and the need for Disney to assemble an advisory board and conservation fund well before the park ever opened. Once we pick up the thread of the conservation fund, we move through its various incarnations and the highlights and celebrations of the fund’s first and second decades. There are some wonderful details throughout these opening passages, and it is a perfect primer for those not as well-versed in the history Disney shares with the wild world. There are even moments where one of the guest writers will give those who know the story some new tidbit or something poignant to chew on.

From here we move into my favorite portion of The Disney Conservation Fund. For approximately 45 pages we are treated to updates from many of the programs the Disney Conservation has funded over the past 20 years. Each double page spread includes a photograph of the work in action or someone affected by the program, the name of the program, where it is taking place, and a brief passage about the impact the conservation fund has had on it. For those of you who have been giving to the fund over the years, this is your reward. This is where you get to find out what those dollars went towards and what kind of work is being done all across the globe.

The next segment is very brief, but is critically important as it looks ahead to the main thrust of the work the conservation fund for the coming decades. There will be two driving initiatives, or mission statements, that all future work will be divided into and you should get used to hearing both. First is Increase the Time, as in the amount of time children spend in nature and their ability to access natural environments. The second is Reverse the Decline, in other words taking a look at threatened animals and what can be done to preserve the habitats of threatened animal species and help them flourish.

It is this second charge that leads us into the final, and largest, section of the book. Like the program updates, these pages are animal specific. Everything from elephants, rhinos, primates and large cats to butterflies, rays, and migratory birds are given ample space in the showcase. Like before each is accompanied by a photograph, sometimes even an additional double splash page. The dangers each face and what is currently being done to try to stem the tide for these creatures make up the text pages. Couple these with the program reports, and The Disney Conservation Fund sends out a very serious message.

The hope of this book is to inspire the next generation that will be picking up the conservation torch. While there is good work happening around the world, it is likely that these young conservationists will face even greater challenges. Yes, it is a coffee table book. Yes, it has some exquisite photography inside. And yes, it is expensive (it has a $40.00 cover price). None of that should deter you from picking it up, uncovering the stories that touch your heart, and connecting your story to the history that has come before. John Baxter does an amazing job weaving together a narrative that is as fluid as it is poignant, and The Disney Conservation Fund: Carrying Forward a Conservation Legacy is well worth picking up.

If you need any more convincing, just glance at a copy for yourself. Turn to page 9 and read the words of Walt Disney as he explains the business of conservation. I promise you that it will convince you to keep reading.

27 April 2016

Worms n' Dirt

Dirt cake, the cake with cookie crumbles made to look like dirt and filled with gummy worms, has been a longstanding favorite in my family. In fact, my aunt makes one of the best dirt cakes I’ve ever tried and brilliantly serves it up in a flower pot. When I discovered two different versions of the kitschy dessert at Walt Disney World on our most recent trip, I had to try both out! Let’s do a little side by side tasting today.

The first came from Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of its Earth Day/anniversary/Party for the Planet. This is a beautiful cupcake to look at! The base is a chocolate cake, and it has a center filled with a chocolate, almost mocha, frosting. It is coated in vanilla frosting, dusted with chocolate cookie crumbles, and topped with a pair of gummy worms and the flower pot. Yes, the flower pot is edible, and it is filled with frosting. I kept referring to it as a frosting bomb, because it is a pure sugar rush.

Our other contender is the Worms n’ Dirt Cake from the Contempo Cafe. This version is shorter, but wider. There is no filling inside, but there are worms baked into throughout the chocolate cake. There is a thin layer of chocolate frosting, and the whole thing is topped with a pile of chocolate cookie crumbles.

Of the two, I preferred Contempo Cafe’s Worms n’ Dirt Cake. The chocolate cake was moist and spongy, and had worms throughout, which is a hallmark of this type of dessert. The white frosting on the Earth Day version could be seen through the cookie crumbles and broke the illusion that we were actually eating dirt (and yes, I realize how absurd that sounds). Part of this dirt reality braking came from the fact that the Contempo Cafe version also had way more crumbles than its park counterpart. That said, the Contempo Cafe cake would do well to add its own flower pot frosting bomb, filled with rick chocolate frosting, if you want my honest opinion.

Obviously, the Earth Day cupcake was only available for one day, but sometimes these special event cupcakes that pop up at Disney’s Animal Kingdom find their way back onto the regular menu somewhere. If so, I hope they make some more tweaks to this treat before rolling it back out. Take a page from what is already working at Contempo Cafe and just amp it up a little bit.

If you’re looking for a fun dessert that isn’t ice cream, I highly recommend the Worms n’ Dirt at Contempo Cafe! Especially if you go over the top with your kids or friends about how gross it is to eat dirt and worms, while you’re taking a huge bite out of it! I have memories of dirt cake from my childhood, and now Walt Disney World has found a way to help families make their own dirt cake memories, without the mess and fuss of having to create the cake themselves. So, dig in!

25 April 2016

Good for What Ails You

The Beverly Sunset Theater in Disney’s Hollywood Studios houses a couple of shops, some of whom have received a name and theme change over the past couple of years. Yet, when it comes to brewing up something sweet or finding a cinematic souvenir, the place has you covered! Of course, one look around the decor of Sweet Spells or Reel Vogue and it is easy to see that it isn’t all cupcakes and stuffed animals. In fact, villains and movie monsters have made themselves quite at home in this brightly lit theater lobby.

Perhaps the most relevant and prominent villain in the shops is the Evil Queen/Old Hag from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While the recipe she is working on in the display window might just be for a Candied Apple, it’s clear from the cabinets inside that there could be some more sinister plans afoot. Tucked amongst the taffy and cotton candy are a series of malicious ingredients. From Dr. Mort Tician’s we find Mummy’s Dust, which is apparently “Good for what ails you,” and Vampire Teeth. Meanwhile, the Black Raven’s company is the supplier for Viper’s Venom and Hemlock Root Extract.

Surely some of these items could be used for no good on their own, at least one of the items can be utilized in a potion we’ve already seen in the movies. Mummy’s Dust is the first ingredient required to cast the Peddler’s Disguise from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Aka, the spell that turns the Queen into the Old Hag. Luckily for us, the Evil Queen’s apothecary seems to be lacking the other three required ingredients.

All of this is to say that if you get a candied apple from Beverly Sunset’s Sweet Spells, you’d best be careful. If you need me to try that first bite for you, just to make certain it’s not a wicked spell, I’d be happy to help out!

21 April 2016

You Are Most Beautiful

Tomorrow is the 18th birthday of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There is a lot of history already in this park, and there are so many wonderful opportunities around the corner and stretching to the horizon for Walt Disney World’s fourth gate. Typically, this is when I like to do some sort of state of the park, go back to Joe Rohde’s talk on the evolution of the park, or jump out on a proclamation about how the park has so much to offer. While I will mention Rohde is just a little while, today I want to go much smaller and talk about a single corner of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

There are a lot of messages throughout the park, most deal conservation efforts. How to live in symbiosis with the world around you, finding value in and preserving the lives of the creatures great in small in your local and global communities, and the pitfalls that await those who choose to not heed the warnings in the world. Perhaps recognition and conservation are the key drivers in much of what is presented throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom. For my part, however, I am inclined to find the underlying message that permeates through everything, a message of hope and of caring for one another.

Sometimes that caring also means you have to care for yourself.

When Harambe Market opened last year, it gave a whole new life to Harambe. It brought with it more vendors, businesses, art, and information about the people and places of the area. Much of what could be considered to be graffiti spoke to the intrinsic value of we as a community of people and as individuals. Perhaps no corner of the market put it more succinctly than this one.

Located at a juncture where Cast Members venture backstage, this art effectively shouts from the rooftop that there is something about you that is truly beautiful, and how that is true for each of us. It doesn’t matter what we’re facing, something about us is remarkable. Perhaps the best person to speak to this small vignette is Joe Rohde: 
“Africa is a place of enormous energy, optimism, ingenuity, and determination. It is just a place that often provides very simple means of expressing this energy. Out little world tries to capture some of the sense of brightness in the face of struggle, cleverness with limited means, and upbeat energy generated from sheer will that one feels very often when one is in one of those little towns. I kind a hoped a few subversive souls would wander down and take their photo by this hand.”
It is a corner that lives in my heart, and is a constant reminder on my phone (with the missus standing confidently, if subversively, by the hand). I hope that when you wander by this small scene you take a moment and, whether or not you venture over to get a picture, find that thing in you that is beautiful and hold onto it. Carry that with you as you explore the rest of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I promise you, you will see the park in an entirely different light.

19 April 2016

Tomorrow's Windows

When Horizons first opened in 1983, there was a lot of information to cover and guests had a lot of questions about the view of the future. Luckily, those early Cast Members were given a booklet containing a ton of details about the attraction, its place in EPCOT Center, and how its vision of tomorrow was formed. Looking back at tomorrow is what Horizons did best, and in doing so today, I find myself drawn a little more to the story of the attraction than the science of its tomorrow. Luckily for me, the Cast Member booklet also went scene by scene through the attraction, allowing the possibility of reliving the attraction in a very different manner. Also, it’s fun finding the details that change between concept to reality! Want to stroll down memory lane? Come on, take a look at 21st century living, through the pages of the Cast Members’ booklet.

The queue and load concourse is styled as a transportation center of the future. Here, we are immersed in an environment of tomorrow. The public address system announces arriving transports and pages passengers bound for exotic locations. Three projected “travel posters” highlight our destination in this future adventure: Sea Castle, a floating city; Mesa Verde, a desert farming community; and Brava Centauri, a space colony.

Stepping onto a moving conveyor, we begin our journey as we board suspended gondolas accommodating four passengers each.

As we move through a short tunnel, our narrator tells us that we are not the first to travel forward in time; “People have been dreaming about the future for centuries.” Shifting clouds and floating images of early inventions trail his words.

is the theme that unites the next five scenes. This whimsical, lighthearted recollection gives us a taste of what some dreamers of the past thought the future might look like.

A leading visionary of his time and one of the earliest writers of science fiction, Jules Verne predicted that space travel would one day be a regular occurrence. In this scene, Verne’s bullet-rocket blasts off for the moon with Verne himself and two animals as passengers. Next, we pass by the “Man in the Moon” with the rocket ship lodged in his eye.

One concept of futuristic mass transport systems was envisioned by the 19th-century artist, Robida. His stylized view of rush-hour rapid transit was created over a hundred years ago.

The dreamers of the 1930’s put their own stamp on designs for the future. The work of visionary artists was most often published on the covers of cheap “pulp” science fiction magazines. In this setting of an art deco apartment, we see various hair-brained contraptions and mechanical wonders that were supposed to make housework obsolete, including a rather overburdened housework robot.

In more recent times, dreamers’ visions of the future have come to us through the media of television and film. Against a neon backdrop, three screens provide glimpses of the future world from classic science fiction films and television programs.

This dimensional set reveals a 1950’s conception of the future. City lights twinkle as a futuristic monorail glides along its guideway. The sky above is dominated by helicopters, jetpackers, and rocket ships.

“OMNISPHERE” (Omnimax Theater)
After passing through another transition tunnel where the shifting lights and projected colors of the “lumia” set the mood, we begin a gradual ascent past the two giant concave screens of the “Omnisphere.” Here, through spectacular projected imagery, we visit micro- and macro-worlds and the far reaches of inner and outer space. The startling imagery surrounds us above, below, and on all sides with wonders both natural and manmade; the space shuttle rising skyward atop a fiery pillar; graceful floating colonies in space; the microscopic landscape of the revolutionary computer chip; the architecture of growing crystal structures engineered by man for the age of technology; the mystery of the DNA molecule and the minute diatoms that inhabit our aquatic frontier and the enormous power of the sun being harnessed to build the future. Today, “if we can dream it, we can do it!”

is the theme of the next twenty scenes. In this section of the attraction we explore some possible habitats of the future, envisioned by the activities of an extended-family group.

We travel through a tunnel to a three-dimensional urban environment of the future, Nova Cite. It is dusk, and as we glide past, advanced transportation systems (mag-lev trains) and habitable megastructures are visible throughout the community. Our vehicles near an apartment decorated with unique plants that are the result of genetic engineering. Inside, a married couple are speaking and we recognize the man’s voice as that of our narrator. The conversations and observations of this couple (the grandparents of an extended family) will be the narration for the rest of our trip. At the moment, the grandmother is conversing with a miniature holographic image of her daughter at a desert-farm community. Here, we can see how science and technology will enhance future lifestyles.

A desert scene follows, representing one of our brightest potentials for feeding the growing population. Moving past desert mesas, we come upon Mesa Verde, the desert-farming community. In the distance, a field of genetically engineered citrus tress (we can even smell the blossoms) are being harvested by robotic fieldhands. This arid desert has been transformed into a garden paradise. Overhead, giant solar-powered airships silently carry a cargo of harvested produce across the skies. Standing by a large console in the glass-domed control room, a farmer supervises the various mechanical harvesters via a video screen, while keeping in touch with her husband on another screen. Leaving the control dome, we see a jet-powered hovercraft idling at its landing pad outside the farmer’s home.

We approach the home past a lush garden with a three-tiered waterfall and tropical flowers surrounded by a natural rock landscape. Inside, the house is designed to blend with the desert landscape. Dad fixes a cake in the kitchen while his son plays with the voice-activated pantry. In the communications center, a talking computer gives a chemistry lesson to the teen-age daughter who appears to be more interested in talking to her boyfriend on the television screen.

We leave the desert habitat, and arrive in the sub repair room of Sea Castle, the floating city (visible through a large rear window of the workshop). A young man continues his conversation, via teleview, with his girlfriend at the desert far while he repairs a mini-sub with the aid of an interactive diagnostic computer and laser-welder.

Traveling over the dive chamber, we can see a small submarine and various diving equipment laid out, awaiting the next expedition to be launched from this floating city.

Class is in session in this computerized school of tomorrow. The teacher emphasizes underwater safety as she instructs her young pupils in preparation for a dice along with their class mascot, Rover, a seal.

Passing through an airlock, we dive towards the ocean floor. Ahead, in an undersea restaurant, people are dining while watching a dolphin play just outside their windows. The children from the classroom swim by with their instructor.

The tall stalks of a kelp forest, a cultivated undersea farm, sway gently in the ocean currents while a submarine takes samples. The kelp grown here is harvested for biomass in energy production. Further on, an ocean mining operation is visible; manganese nodules are being vacuumed from the sea floor.

As our vehicles rise toward the ocean surface, the boy’s submarine appears. Suddenly the entire environment shifts and changes; the deep ocean becomes a starfield in the void of outer space and the submarine transforms into a spaceship that disappears from sight behind a floating space colony.

We drift past a construction site where an astronaut is maneuvering beams into position to build a solar-energy power station. A woman in a space vehicle lends him assistance. In the distance are three space colonies with space craft arriving and departing.

We enter an airlock chamber, which leads from outer space to the interior of space colony Brava Centauri. An intercolony transport is in the process of refueling.

Leaving the airlock chamber, we enter an observation tube and are greeted with a breathtaking view – a space city spread out in all directions “below” us. This unique revolving city clings to the inside surface of a spherically shaped, free-floating environment.

The zero-gravity recreation center is brimming with the latest in healthful recreational equipment. A woman is cycling down a bike path from her hometown on Earth, with the help of a simulation device. A body scanner monitors her condition and displays results nearby. In the background, the shadows of a group playing zero-gravity basketball are visible.

In the colony’s main shuttle docking bay, a family of new arrivals are getting their first exposure to zero-gravity. A boy and his dog are floating in the air, while his parents wait at a nearby elevator. In space, two astronauts control the movement of an asteroid being readied for transportation to Earth.

On the other side of the technical lab is the manufacturing lab, tended by automated robot arms. Inside six illuminated globes, perfect crystals are being grown for “high-tech” applications back on Earth.

Passing through the lab, we enter the colony’s community area. A space family is involved in a holographic party-line conversation, showing off their year-old child to friends and relatives. One screen features our narrators in Nova Cite, another shows their teenage granddaughter in Mesa Verde, while the boy from Sea Castle appears on the third screen.

As our ride vehicles accelerate into space through the launch tube, we view three aerial images promoting tourism. The images recall the three habitats presented in the previous “Tomorrow’s Windows” section of our journey to the future. Highlighted here re the transportation vehicles used in each of the different habitats.

Leaving the floating colony, we are surrounded by the void of outer space. Lighted panels appear on the doors of out vehicles, presenting our choices for a simulated ride through one of the three habitats we have visited. Once we have made our selections, majority rule in each vehicle determines which experience we will have.

As we depart for the habitat of our choice, our point-of-view on the high speed “ride” is from either a desert hovercraft, a mini-sub, or a space craft.

At the conclusion of our ride, we must return from the future to the present. But, as our narrator points out, the most exciting aspect of traveling into the future is that the journey never really ends… there’s always a new horizon.

Having completed our unique experience of traveling through the future, we return to the FuturePort concourse where we disembark from our ride vehicles. The extensive mural here and in the exit area illustrates man’s journey from the past into the future.

14 April 2016

Polynesian Potpourri

I started out today’s article with the three pictures above because I wanted everyone to take note of them. I’m hopeful that you studied them and all the pieces in the displays before you got down to my ramblings, and, if not, that you’re going back and doing that now before continuing on. Do we have everyone and are you keeping your hands, arms, legs, and feet inside the Bob-A-Round? Then on with the show!

This display wraps around the corner on the bottom floor of the Polynesian Village’s Great Ceremonial House, along the hallway as you make your way to Capt. Cook’s. Given that it’s static and that it could be considered off of the beaten path, it would be understandable if it’s often overlooked. However, there is a lot of history behind these windows. The thread that connects all of these pieces is the Polynesian theme itself. There are a plethora of records, many of which feature the Pineapple Princess herself, Annette Funicello, several photographs from the early years of the resort, concept art and construction photos of the Sunshine Tree Pavilion, and a handful of film nods. Long story short, if it ties into the island theme, it has a place in this exhibit.

My real question is why isn’t this happening all across Walt Disney World?

If you think about the animated feature, live action showcases, and theme park history of all things Disney there are plenty of other resorts that could have just as large of a display paying their respects to all that has come before them. Off the top of my head:
  • Port Orleans French Quarter/Riverside – New Orleans has been the focal subject matter for Disney is on numerous occasions, including New Orleans Square, Princess and the Frog, and Walt’s own travels to the area (where he found his inspiration for Audio-Animatronics). And these are only the tip of the iceberg!
  • Wilderness Lodge/Fort Wilderness – Do I need to say more than Davy Crockett and Yellowstone Cubs? How about Western River Expedition, Frontierland, Woody’s Round-Up, Westward Ho, Fort Wilderness Railroad, the Apple Dumpling Gang, and the Golden Oak Ranch. Did I mention Yellowstone Cubs and Davy Crockett?
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – This would be the perfect place to highlight the early nature documentary series, the True Life Adventures, including The African Lion, and some of the rarely seen concept art for Epcot’s never built Equatorial Africa pavilion.
  • Coronado Springs – Zorro and a deeper exploration of Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, enough said.
  • Caribbean Beach – There is so much that could be done just with the Pirates theme.
  • Yacht and Beach Club – Sailing is a huge part of Donald’s history would definitely fit in with some of the other nautical tales of Disney past. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Seal Island, and Walt’s love of cruising all jump to mind.
Aside from the Polynesian Village this honoring the Disney heritage of the past is happening, in small ways, at the value resorts of all places. Art of Animation features a chandelier where animators, actresses, actors, and others tied to films come to sign pieces commemorating their films. Over at Pop Century, the registration area features display after display of artifacts tied to various decades. Last, but not least, each of the All-Star resorts feature a hallway filled with legendary stars of film, sports, and music, depending on the specific resort. While these may not be the most focused displays, they are making a concerted effort.

Disney isn’t just a place we visit, or a distraction on our television screen and at our local theaters, it is a part of our everyday lives. Likely, it has been for a very long time. I love what the Polynesian has done to give a nod to all the corners of its foundation. Isn’t time the rest of the Vacation Kingdom’s resorts followed suit?

13 April 2016

Poohsticks Bridge

This could be the story of any detail in Walt Disney World, but it happens to belong to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Okay, that’s enough of my Sebastian Cabot impersonation.

As guests make their way through the queue for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh they are quite literally entering into the storybooks of Winnie the Pooh. Guests obviously start at the beginning, in Chapter 1, with a map to help everyone to become acquainted with the Hundred Acre Wood. While most of the places found on this map, such as the Bee Tree, Rabbit’s Garden, and Eeyore’s Gloomy Place, are common, one spot may stick out as unfamiliar to friends of Winnie the Pooh. Poohsticks Bridge has a long history and is worth taking note of.

Poohsticks is a game that dates back to The House at Pooh Corner. In Chapter 6 of the text we find Pooh holding a fir cone and trying to make up a song about it. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, Pooh trips and falls, his fir cone slips from his grasp and takes a tumble off of the bridge and into the river. Bothered, Pooh sits down to watch the river, but notices his fir cone, which he had dropped on the other side, has come floating out the side he is sitting on. He repeats the process and eventually adds a second cone to see which one comes out first and if he can guess correctly. When he invites others to play, it is decided to use sticks instead of fir cones as they are easier to mark for each individual. And thus Poohsticks were born!

This scene is recreated almost identically to the recollection in the book for the opening scene of Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore. The 25 minute feature debuted as an attachment to the theatrical re-release of The Sword in the Stone in March of 1983. It is worth noting that this feature was produced outside of Disney’s animation studio by Rick Reinert Productions, a first for Disney since the 1938 Silly Symphony, Merbabies.

The game became a regular pastime for Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood’s citizens. Its popularity didn’t stop on the page or screen however! Since 1984 annual individual and team World Poohsticks Championships have been held at Day’s Lock on the River Thames. Although the time of year, specific location, and host of the event has changed over the years, the concept remains the same, have the first stick to pass under the bridge and you win.

It may seem like a silly game and an odd notion to include it in a map of the Hundred Acre Wood where guests are preparing to visit The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, but isn’t that what Pooh is all about? Taking the time to stop and notice the world around you with those you care about most? I don’t know about you, but I think I need to head outside for a long overdue game of Poohsticks!

11 April 2016

The Greatest Cop of Them All

There are plenty of hand, feet, and even a nose prints scattered about the courtyard of The Great Movie Ride. Once upon a time guests could be thrilled by stars of television, music, or the big screen as they would come out for a ceremony where their prints would be immortalized. One set of these prints have a bigger story to tell, and they belong to none other than Warren Beatty.

June 14, 1990 was a big day in the history of Walt Disney World, and not just because Warren Beatty left his mark behind. The resort was playing host to a big time movie premiere, and this was a coming out party for the expansion of Walt Disney World.

Things got kicked off with thousands of guests and press descending on Pleasure Island, where it’s AMC theater would play host for the premiere. Those in attendance were given shirts that were black with a ticket outlined on them and the date, the ticket image proclaimed ‘WORLD PREMIERE’ with Dick Tracy and a tommy-gun front and center. These shirts would be available to midnight moviegoers elsewhere, with the ‘WORLD PREMIERE’ language replaced with ‘ADMIT ONE.’ In addition to shirts, yellow straw hats, reminiscent of Tracy’s own, were also given out to those present. The thousands of press and guests waited anxiously to see who would be walking the red carpet.

Dick Tracy himself, Warren Beatty, did not disappoint. Neither did costars Dustin Hoffman, Charlie Korsmo, Glenne Headly and a handful of others. Madonna had to beg off the engagement due to a viral infection. On Disney’s side of things, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Rich Frank made appearances as well. The film, however, was just the beginning.

Once the credits had rolled the party moved down the street from Pleasure Island to then Disney-MGM Studios. Guests attending this after party would not go hungry. Throughout the park hungry detectives could find roast beef, lamb chops, barbecue shrimp, seafood cassoulet, fettuccine, and snails California. But that’s not all! There was a fashion show featuring “Dick Tracy Detective Wear,” a motorcade of the film’s stars down Hollywood Boulevard, several showings of Dick Tracy in the Diamond Double Cross, and two performances of the Eastside Boys. The entire evening was capped off by a special performance of Sorcery in the Sky fireworks.

Of course, with all of the happenings going on it could have been easy to miss that after the motorcade a pair of celebrities were leaving their permanent mark on the park. Although, it doesn’t appear that many people missed out on the opportunity! Warren Beatty, who would at a (DT) to his signature demarking why he was there, Charlie Korsmo, Glenne Headly, and Dustin Hoffman would all take part in the handprint ceremony. Perhaps no single ceremony would have as much fanfare, short of R2-D2 and C-3PO the year prior.

The movie may not have been the hit that Disney had wished for it to be, or as popular as I wish it was, but they definitely put their best foot forward with the premiere! Signs, or should I say signatures, from that night still stand firm in the park of today for those looking for a nod to the greatest cop of them all!

05 April 2016

Gather 'Round and I'll Elucidate

I’ve been doing a lot of podcast recording recently, taking the words from off of the Gazette’s page and sending them straight to the airwaves! I’m on the road to a conference today, but I thought I’d give everyone something to listen to in my absence.

First up, the Disney Magic Hour Podcast. I was able to join Peter Tedone, Melyssa Tedone, and Bryan Bogad to talk about one of the great Disney package films, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. If you think this is a bygone tale of days gone by, you don’t know Toad, or Ichabod for that matter! There is a lot of history to cover here, from real life conflicts, to animation chronicles, and even the literary and theme park implications. Check out Episode 36 of the Disney Magic Hour Podcast as we talk ourselves merrily, merrily, merrily on our way to nowhere in particular!

I also stopped by the WDW Radio this week. Lou Mongello and I take a step back and talk about our extinct favorites from Walt Disney World that we would love to bring back! One stipulation, we cannot bring back attractions… Food items or restaurants? Done. Shops or souvenirs? Absolutely. Characters, feelings, games, shows, names, details, you name it, we tried to bring it back! To join in on the nostalgia, listen to Episode 442 of WDW Radio for the entire trip down memory lane!

04 April 2016

A Taste of Yesteryear

The expansion, or better yet repurposing, of large tracks of land throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios is going to mean some guests are going to stay away from the park or only visit for very brief periods of time. That’s a shame, because the park still has a lot to offer, especially if you’re thinking with your taste buds! One of the signature beverages from the park comes with little in the way of description. In fact, it’s listed only as a Peanut Butter and Jelly Milk Shake.

This item is featured at 50’s Prime Time CafĂ©, but can also be obtained in the living room bar/waiting area known as Tune-In Lounge. The story of the creation of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Milk Shake is an oldie, but goodie. One of dad’s favorite foods is a classic Peanut Butter and Jelly, with grape jelly. One particularly hot afternoon, mom decided to whip him up a milk shake version of his favorite sandwich. Dad’s favorite sandwich quickly became his favorite dessert!

It’s a simple sandwich, which means that the milk shake should be simple to create, right? Absolutely! For those of you who may not have a visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios sometime soon, here’s how it’s done.



2 Cups Vanilla Ice Cream
1/4 Cup Milk
2 Tbsps. Grape Jelly
2 Tbsps. Peanut Butter


In a blender or food processor, blend ingredients until smooth
Add additional peanut butter or jelly to taste.

The only problem you might have is scooping out cups of ice cream in proper portions, but that is as miniscule a critique as I could come up with! Otherwise, this is incredibly easy to put together. The milk shake starts out thick, but becomes thin quickly. This is the best of both worlds, and only makes you have to decide if you need to drink it quick or let it wait just a little while to thin out for you.

There is a great peanut butter flavor, but it was thin enough to ensure you don’t get the sticky, gummy feeling from peanut butter on its own. The grape jelly is sweet, and both the missus and I thought we could have added just a pinch more. I’d also consider a variety of other jellies and jams, and maybe even marmalades, to shake up this shake!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is in a state of flux, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t reasons to still visit the park. The Peanut Butter and Jelly Milk Shake certainly fits the bill. And if you don’t happen to have a trip planned, you can whip up a batch for your family and friends (and don’t forget those cousins!) anytime!