31 August 2016

Seeing It Once

World Showcase has always been a place filled with wonders. Sometimes these are monumental wonders, the eye catching facades of each pavilion, while other times they are piece of Epcot history lost to all but those who know where to look. Then there are the minute wonders, the small details that prove no detail is too small or unimportant, but that could definitely be overlooked or not seen at all, depending upon whether or not a guest was paying attention. Take, for instance, the roof corners throughout the China pavilion.

The ornate beauty of the China pavilion is easy to grasp no matter where you are looking. From entrances guarded by a pair of foo dogs to the gorgeous color schemes and fine detail of the murals scattered about the pavilion, no corner has been cut to showcase the grandeur and beauty. The figurines set atop the corners, however, are easy to glance past. Guest can see a dragon or maybe a lion, marvel at the intricate details from afar, and then move on. Yet, there is so much more to this tale.

The more figures a roof could hold, or that an occupant could procure, the higher in standing the family or status of the building was believed to have been. The figures could be many types of creatures covering everything from dragons, phoenixes, and qilin (a mythical type of unicorn/deer/ox/fish hybrid) to the more grounded lions and horses. Each figure provided its own form of protection for the house, such as a dragon being a protection against water. Perhaps the most puzzling of all figures, however, is the figure that sits front and center more often than not, the figure of a man riding on the back of a chicken or hen.

No, you didn’t read that wrong and if you’ve ever tried to deduce what you were looking at perched upon the corner of the China pavilion’s rooftops, now you know.

There are many legends about where this figure comes from. The most common of which is the tale of Min Wang. It is said that Prince Min reigned for 18 years, over 2,200 years ago, but that it was a catastrophic reign that eventually led to the Prime Minister calling for his execution. So horrible was his rule, that the orders actually included that he have his skin peeled off and for Min to be hung from the roof of his ancestral temple for three days. It is said that his successors placed a ceramic figurine of Prince Min on the roofline in order to ward off his evil spirit should it ever decide to return for vengeance.

You might be wondering where does that leave the chicken? One common thought is that since it is technically impossible for a man to ride a chicken and since a chicken does not have a true ability to fly, then there is no chance that Prince Min could ever escape from atop the building and his duty to protect it. Additionally, all those other creatures that are in line behind him, they are there to make certain that he cannot run off.

The figures the perch high atop the roofs through World Showcases China pavilion could be there as status or protection, history or legend, or perhaps a bit of all of these things. One thing is for certain, there is never a detail small enough to escape the attention of the Imagineers who continue to refine their world-building skills.

30 August 2016

You're Entering Horizons

There are a lot of pieces of art in the sphere of Walt Disney World marketing, concept art, merchandising, and the like. I don’t know of a single piece, however, that evokes as much emotion in me as this advertisement for Horizons. In the text alone there is a perfect time capsule of what Horizons was about and how it continued the traditions forward from the Carousel of Progress. It even reminds guests that it was General Electric who brought the dreams of tomorrow to us.

If you read through the entire one sheet you are doing better than I am, because my eyes always settle directly on the dusk-shrouded building of Horizons. Whether meant to evoke a brighter tomorrow just beyond those doors or a spacecraft preparing for launch, or just having landed, seeing the outline of Horizons is enough to make my heart skip a beat. From the simplicity of the green and red lights, to the portal to tomorrow that seems to be just mere steps away, this piece of marketing completely personifies everything I loved about this attraction.

What about you, is this just another advertisement that wouldn’t have garnered much attention from you or is it something that you love as well? Is there another piece focusing on Horizons that calls out to you more? And what is it trying to tell us, is it a spaceship or the path to tomorrow? That’s the wonderful thing about Horizons, it could be whatever it needed to be to every person who experienced it!

29 August 2016

The Cup That Will Transport You - Part VIII

With all of the destinations for breakfast around Walt Disney World, it's no wonder that Joffrey's Coffee & Tea Co. is always finding a new blend to unveil for those of us who want a little bit of the parks in our cups once we return home. Of course not all coffee is consumed for breakfast, there are the midday pick-ups and after meals variety as well. Joffrey's Coffee & Tea Co.'s most recent release features a blend from one such dinner location, and a guest favorite dining location to boot, Le Cellier. It can be hard to get a table one of Epcot's signature dining experiences, tucked away beneath the towering Hotel du Canada, but this bag is available right now! Let's stop carrying on and see what our resident taste-tester thought.

As a reminder, since it's been a while since we had a Cup of Disney review, we start with a bag of whole bean coffee and grand our own as needed at home. For the review itself, we utilize tasting notes from Joffrey's Coffee & Tea Co. and our own thoughts, a list of our rankings of all Walt Disney World and Joffrey's offerings, and then a catalog of previous reviews.

Le Cellier (Dark) – Only an exquisite dining experience under sweeping stone arches and flickering candles at Le Cellier Steakhouse can be complete with an equally exquisite coffee. Our roastmater created this exclusive blend using beans from Central and S. America, then perfectly roasts them to a rich dark level that brings out notes of citrus with sweet caramel-brown sugar and lovely smoky finish. Try it in a French press, after all that's how the Canadians like to prepare this wonderful elixir.

What Aileen Tastes:
For those of you who have reads our other reviews, you all know that I am normally excited to test out a dark roast coffee, but I have to say this one was a bit of a letdown. When I opened the grinder, the smoky aroma was immediately overwhelming.  I felt like I had been transported to a late night campout or a Labor Day barbecue. For me, this was not a positive, but I am sure that some of you would enjoy this unique aspect of the Le Cellier roast as it definitely felt like I was suddenly sitting inside a coffeehouse.  When it comes to taste, I did not detect any citrus, but did taste the sweet caramel-brown sugar fighting its way through.  Unfortunately, I tasted more bitterness and smokiness than anything else.  For me it was not smooth enough to pair with breakfast foods, which happens to be the main meal where I enjoy coffee. However, I truly believe this coffee would pair well with the offerings at Le Cellier, especially the beef entrees and poutine. If you enjoy the extremely dark and bitter spectrum of coffee roasts, I think this could be a great option for you. If you try this blend, let us know what you thought!

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

Previous Reviews:

26 August 2016

A Unique Look at the Life and Times of Walt Disney

This week I was able to join the Disney Magic Hour Podcast crew as we virtually toured the Walt Disney Family Museum. It was a thorough report from Pete’s recent trip, and definitely made me want to check out the museum as soon as I can, not unlike how I’ve always felt about the museum! The episode is definitely a primer if you are planning on visiting soon or just want to get a better feel for what the museum has to offer.

The exploration reminded me of all of the wonderful information we were able to gleam from the gallery by gallery tour that the Walt Disney Family Museum released to the public in the summer and early fall of 2009, just prior to the museum’s October 1 opening. While many things have changed since then, plenty has remained the same, and the press releases can set an excellent stage for a visit. Or as an elongated post card for those of us without a visit on the horizon! Rather than make everyone dig back through the Gazette’s archives to find these gems, I’ve pooled them all here for you to wade into. Enjoy!

24 August 2016

Crew Status Roster

The Great Movie Ride is one of those places that is so rife with memories and details that it is easy for some fabulous minutiae to get overlooked. In fact, from the postings in the old west scene to the the hidden images in the hieroglyphics or name-dropping that occurs throughout the gangster scene, there is a special emphasis placed on details that you may or may not ever get to examine closer. My favorite scene of The Great Movie Ride, Alien’s Nostromo, also happens to be home to my favorite blink and you’ll miss it, if you’re even lucky enough to see it, detail.

Just after you have passed by Ripley, on the left hand side of the Nostromo’s corridor, sits a pair of display panels. One gives you the name and registration number of the ship, while the second is the crew status roster. This list of twenty-two names, all currently residing in sector 00294, doesn’t list a single Ellen Ripley, Dallas, or Kane like one would expect. In fact, it doesn’t even list the actresses’ and actors’ real life identities. No, the crew listed here, are a regular who’s who of Imagineering that had a hand in the creation of The Great Movie Ride. Each entry is listed along with individual’s role/status, and personnel number. Some of these crew members have clearly had an interaction with the xenomorph, while others have simply fascinating responsibilities!

Since the screen can be so hard to read when a xenomorph is lunging at you and your loved ones, and even harder to get a clear picture of (of which this photo is still shaky up close), let me make it just a bit easier for you to read:

Eric Jacobson…System Alteration Supervisior…4Q7
Bob Joslin…Unexplainable Phenomenon Expert…96K3
Eric Swapp…**MISSING**
Glenn Koch…Intergalactic Goo Analyst…0I2
Bob Weis…Spaceship Driver…83JY
Kathy Rogers…Coordination Coordinator…5X5
Brock Thoman…Outer Space Planner…3-56O9
Robin Reardon…**MISSING**
Doug Esselstrom…Shirt Supervising Officer…8P4
Cory Sewelson…**MISSING**
Geoff Puckett…Video Eyewash Designator…77L9
Jack Gillett…Re-Wiring Specialist…9U2
Walt Steel…Technical System Untangler…6-44M9
Doug Griffith…Still Programming The Witch…5W3
Craig Russell…Everywhere At Once…2B4
Ron Beumer…**MISSING**
John Sullivan...Looking For Ron Beumer…34L6
Tim Kirk…Interior Detail Expert…3PV
Paul Osterhaut...**MISSING**
Mike Vale…Ear Damage Officer…6M4
Michael Sprout…Operation Manual Re-Writer…7-20K4
Carol Rotundo…Star Search Astrophysicist…1K5

23 August 2016

Something That Will Never Be Finished

Nine years ago I came up with an idea to start a blog. At the time there were a couple of community-driven websites, a few podcasts, and a handful of dedicated bloggers. They were, and continue to be, an amazing lot. I have learned so much from them and I am always humbled to be mentioned in any Venn diagram that includes them. To think about those early days and then to look around and see what the community has blossomed into over the past nine years is truly remarkable.

As a person I am relatively shy and like to keep to myself. I like being behind the camera, not in front of it. I may never entirely understand what actually drove me to step out into the great big internet and start the Main Street Gazette, but I’m so happy I did. In those early years I thought of it as a platform for creative (read: fiction) writing and assistance in trip planning. It would evolve into a daily beast that touched upon my opinions, history, food, photographs, answering the burning question of why things were hiding in plain sight, and a roundup of the best articles I read across the community and gave readers something new each and every day. It was a pace that I couldn’t keep up forever, even when I had the incredible talents of individuals like Tony, Zanna, Eric, Estelle, Melissa(s), Elizabeth, Andrew, Alan, George, Blake, and so many others who joined me to write an article or roundtable contribution. Eventually, I had to slow down to the now mild pace of two to four articles a week, depending on what I can do.

Along the way I’ve made some incredible friends. I learned that slowing down doesn’t mean that I’ve let anyone down, just that I’m creating anticipation for the next article. I’ve also learned that the sky is the limit, and each day the Gazette find new readers who are excited by what they find and dedicate insane amounts of time to going back and reading over the last nine years’ worth of writing. I am, if you haven’t heard it before and even if you have, overwhelmed and exceedingly gratefully for each and every one of you. The support you have shown me when I have faced challenges, to my health or just in terms of generating content and ideas, has been astounding. And the only way I know how to repay you is to keep moving forward and writing new articles.

I know I’m not a traditional blogger. The Gazette has never featured ads, and only very rarely do I accept anything for review. That isn’t to say that won’t change one day, but that’s where I’ve kept things, trying to remain focused on what matters. And that is you, the readers. I tend to write in a style that bounds haplessly between an excited adolescent and a haughty know-it-all who abbreviates rather than expounds upon bits of history or his theories, which has turned readers off from time to time. It is that introverted side of me that accepts that the Gazette is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but to be thankful for those of you that have come along on these crazy journey.

I started the Gazette at a time in my life where a deep connection I had to Walt Disney World was taken away and I was mere months away from getting married. I had always had a thirst for knowledge and wanting to know all the stories and history I could about the Vacation Kingdom, but nine years ago I didn’t know where to take that knowledge. Clearly the missus, who once threatened bodily harm if I didn’t find an outlet that wasn’t presenting her with a lecture and wonder if she was taking notes, knew what I didn’t. She knew that I was an educator at heart and that sharing all of the stories I found and the interesting tidbits I uncovered with the world and watching their sense of wonder rise was what I needed to do.

So the Gazette was born on a Thursday evening in August, after days of crafting a clever opening article and tirelessly trying out historical Disney names that I felt would get the idea of what this site would be across to the readers. We’ve stuck close to some of our founding ideas, such as utilizing titles that can be found in signage, songs, or narrations throughout the parks and resorts. We changed the things that needed to change, such as when we went from publishing articles whenever I finished them to 9:00am, the standard time that the parks of Walt Disney World open. And we’ll continue to toe the line between evolving and holding firm to our roots for as long as you’ll have us.

Once again you have spent another year with my blatherings, but I hope they’ve given you something new to consider. Maybe you learned a story you didn’t know about a detail you’ve always loved in the park, maybe you found a new favorite dish or recipe, or maybe you just found someone who shared your opinion on a particular topic or interest. Whatever it was that brought you to the Main Street Gazette, or kept you here for another year, thank you. You are what keep me going, and I couldn’t ask for a greater set of people to write for! I don’t know what the next year holds for the Gazette, but I do know that there will be new articles to share, so long as you keep on reader.

22 August 2016

In My Throat With My Heart

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar has a little bit of everything and a little something for everyone. There are stories abound to be discovered within Jock’s workshop, and these stories can keep you entertained for quite a while. Eventually, however, you are going to want something to quench your thirst and/or something to satisfy your hunger. Luckily, the folks around the hangar have you covered with beverages to suit every taste and age and pub fare for most diets that has been elevated to an art form. Kind of like what Jock can do with a plane, right?

Some of my favorite bites have circulated off of the menu, though I suspect they’ll make their way back around at some point. Meanwhile, new items have landed in the pilot’s log that I’m sure will be just as satisfying. When it comes to the beverages served up by Jock’s crew, there is no lack of delicious cocktails to partake in. Today, let’s combine a favorite beverage, or Jocktail as they’re known in these parts, and dish in a pairing that is truly an adventure.

Let’s start with what would likely arrive at your table, or boat bench, barstool, or diving bell first; the Air Pirate’s Mule. This features Knob Creek Disney Select Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon, Fresh Lime Juice, topped with Fever-Tree Ginger Beer, and is served in a copper mug similar to other mule-type cocktails. According to Jock himself, “You gotta have the backbone of a mule to order this Jocktail!”

For those unaware, ginger beer is the stronger, older brother to ginger ale. It can pack a two-fisted wallop of ginger that is sure to clean out your sinuses if you’re not prepared for the kick. Hence the mule part of the name. It plays nice with the lime for that tropical drink set of flavors. The change up here comes from the inclusion of bourbon, whereas a traditional mule is served with vodka. Those of you who know me have probably already recognized my predisposition to whiskeys and bourbons, but it work particularly well here to mellow out what could otherwise be a zinging cocktail. It isn’t an adult beverage that you can drink multiples of and not feel the effects until you stand up, you will know that you are getting a strong, but well-balanced, drink right from the first sip.

On the food side of the Hangar Bar’s offerings is a selection of dishes whose roots stretch around the globe. In fact, while food is only featured on a single page inside the Pilot’s Log, aka menu, these are the dishes handpicked by Jock himself for his new member dinner as part of his induction into the Society for Explorers and Adventurers. For our pairing, we ordered up some Lao Che’s Revenge, the “Spicy Asian Sticky Wings direct from Club Obi Wan.”

The small pan comes with a mix of eight savory wings and drumettes. There isn’t a lot of heat with these wings, but then again we’re not in Buffalo, but they definitely live up to the sticky description. There is a great back-and-forth between the sweet elements of the sauce and the zest of the spice selection, which I would liken to a Chinese five-spice blend. The wings themselves have a crispy skin, with just a little bit of chewiness, that is the hallmark of a well prepared wing. The other telling sign of a delicious wing is the tender meat inside, which these have in spades.

Our pairing works exceptionally well together, with a lot of the sharper, more impactful flavors coming from our Air Pirate’s Mule and not the wings, which would be more typical of pub drinks and eats. The ginger melts in well with the spicy elements of the Lao Che’s Revenge, while the wings’ sweetness couples nicely with the bourbon. All in all, it is a winning combination. And if you want a pro tip, save the extra sauce in the bottom of your wing pan, order up some of the Rolling Boulder Sliders, and dip the top buns into the sauce. You can thank Tony Caggiano for that one!

In multiple trips to Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, I’ve yet to find a truly disappointing drink or plate, and the stories present throughout the lounge are simply stellar. This may be one of my favorite pairings, but it certainly won’t be the last. If you’re looking for something a little adventurous, but not too far off of the well-trodden path, putting an Air Pirate’s Mule together with Lao Che’s Revenge should be right up your alley.

18 August 2016

Relive Captain Nemo's Adventures

When we look back and think about some of the Magic Kingdom’s earliest show-stopping attractions, it is hard to not immediately focus in on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage. This Fantasyland staple ran from mid-October 1971 until its closure in 1994. No trip to Walt Disney World was complete until you had boarded one of Captain Nemo’s famed Nautilus submarines and taken a journey that he narrated, voiced by the impressive Peter Renoudet, and escaped from impressive sea monsters. Living to tell the tale was one of the souvenirs every child took home with them.

Even after it had stop taking guests on fantastic voyages through liquid space, there was still something to be gleamed from visiting the area. The rocky shores with tropical vegetation were still there. So too were the metal fixtures and shelter of the queue. And while there wasn’t a single Nautilus to be seen prowling the waters of Fantasyland’s Vulcania, the waterfall covered caves still beckoned for a photograph to be taken of them. Of course, this corner of the Magic Kingdom had to see a ton of work in order to ensure it was worth of being called Nemo’s home port.

Due to the fact that the Magic Kingdom had to be elevated in order to accommodate the utilidors, while not disturbing the close to the surface water table, the Submarine Voyage was able to begin building without much in the way of excavation. True, there was bush hogging that was needed to clear out vegetation, but overall the site was in good condition from the start. The lagoon would be lined with concrete, and the major show scenes, those that occurred beyond the waterfall’s veil in the darkened depths of the oceans, would take place in a large warehouse-like show building. Here we can see what the construction of the attraction, and this corner of Fantasyland for that matter, looked like early in its life.

You can see the track, lagoon walls, and the yet to be covered by rockwork show building. The four vehicles perched on the edge of the unfilled lagoon are sitting on the spot that the queue will eventually occupy. While the reef and show scenes haven’t begun being constructed yet, you can see some of the foundational and utility work taking place in the center of the lagoon. If you look closely at the bottom left corner, you can even see one of the turrets of Cinderella Castle taking shape above the building that will be home to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is still one of my favorite Disney feature films, and the attraction still holds a special place in my heart. There are times when it is great to be able to live within the story of a film or attraction, and not have a desire to peak behind the curtain, or waterfall, and spoil the illusion. My love for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea has, for whatever reason, never been held to that standard as I have sought to learn as much about it as is possible. This aerial view is simply a cool piece to gaze at and think about what the attraction would look like in just a few short years, to even try to figure out how this footprint fits into today’s New Fantasyland, and remember the times when Captain Nemo welcomed you aboard.

16 August 2016

Many Strange Legends are Told of These Jungles

The Jungle Book has long standing as a personal favorite Disney animated feature of mine. It is one of those films that is easy, yet inexplicably difficult, to rationalize for me. It is a movie that I always think fondly of, but never go out of my way to seek out. It is the film that, along with Robin Hood, I most closely relate to my father. This, even above Robin Hood, was the movie he would throw on when I was a child on a Saturday afternoon. He would lay on the floor and I would curl up near him, until I need more space and moved up to the couch. A nap would generally follow close behind, usually somewhere around the point when Bagheera and Baloo would have their heart to heart after escaping King Louie with their fur attached.

I have known for a long time that these type of nostalgic feelings will garner my attention when brought back up around the parks and resorts, and I’m certain that Disney knows this about all of us as well. It is the reason my wife thinks that I Wanna Be Like You follows her around Walt Disney World, a few notes of the Ballad of Davy Crockett and I’m a child back listening to someone playing the guitar at Fort Wilderness, and why we all crave those park music loops and theme park albums to listen to once we get home. It’s rare for me, however, to create new musical memories tied to Disney.

In February of last year I happened to be in Disneyland for a conference (I know, it’s a tough life). I happened to be staying in at Paradise Pier while the majority of my friends, co-workers, and other conference goers we at the Disneyland Hotel. This had happened because I had waited too long to book my room and had to board within walking distance. From here I could tell you all about the harrowing journey my friend and I had in simply getting to Anaheim or about all of the fund he and I had, and the missus and I once she arrived after the conference, taking in all things Trader Sam’s, but this is a story set down about music and The Jungle Book.

My contingent of co-workers found themselves all in the Adventure Tower of the Disneyland Hotel. Having a slight, and I do mean slight, walk each morning and my innate ability to not be able to adjust to time changes well, I would undoubtedly find myself making my way over to the their area of the resort early each morning. Most of those mornings I would pause along the pathway between the Adventure Tower and Trader Sam’s to listen to take in the flowers and scenery, and maybe catch a glimpse of rabbit or one of the Disneyland cats (I’m looking at you Ned). I would venture into the lobby and marvel at the lights, pour over every detail of the Adventureland concept art, and examine the maquettes from the Jungle Cruise with more attention than they probably get in a month of Sundays. Since I was on my own, my only real company was the generously provided background soundtrack provide by Disney.

Each loop around the resort was expertly crafted, but it was the Adventure loop that really beckoned to me time and again. In fact, it was a single piece of music that I heard several times over the course of that week that stuck with me, The Jungle Book’s Overture from George Bruns. It is music that I instantly knew, and yet found it hard to immediately place. Something about the slinkiness of the brass flute that wound through the piece like a dark, winding river or a snake meandering through the trees and tall grasses reached out and took hold of me on those mornings. It felt wild and peaceful all at the same time.

Those brief moments when I could pause and just fall in love with the world around me were a gift. Bruns’ Overture gave me a sense of calm and set me up perfectly for long days of learning and put a joy in my heart that, looking back, must have been calling to a distant memory of the lazy Saturday afternoons of watching The Jungle Book.

I make plenty of memories at Walt Disney World and Disneyland still, even when I’m on a solo trip. As a rule, however, they almost always include friends or family that I interact with on the trip. Rarely are there moments that I find on my own that I alone am the steward of. Bagheera opens up his narration of The Jungle Book with these words, “Many strange legends are told of these jungles…” It just so happens that this is my story from the jungle, and it bring me untold joy. Anytime I uncover a story within the Disney environments I love relaying them back to the people that they remind me of or to memories we may have shared together at one point in time. I’m sure we’ve all had a moment or two like that within our own Disney adventures. So, tell me, where do you find the intersection of Disney, music, and your fondest memories?

15 August 2016

Les Halles Centrales

The French know their food, and I don’t believe that anyone would question that. When it comes to the France pavilion in Epcot, you can sit down to a great meal, filled with classic French preparations, or grab a delicious ice cream or a world famous baked good and feel like you have fallen into a food lover’s paradise. However, what if you want something more substantial, a meal on the go, but don’t want to have a full sit down meal? Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie has all the pastries you could want, but the main courses tend to get forgotten.

Looking for a sandwich as part of your first jog around World Showcase? Les Halles has you covered with numerous options. Perhaps our favorite of the eight sandwiches currently offered is the Poulet au Pistou. The translation is chicken pesto, but there is so much more to this sandwich. Nestled in a personal-sized round of French bread is a chicken breast, red onions, cheese, tomato, and pesto.

Starting with the bread, I don’t believe there is a place on Walt Disney World property that does bread any better. The individual portion here is excellent and holds up incredibly well to the ingredients inside. The sandwich is then layered up with a tender breast of chicken and slices of cheese. Though not listed on the menu, this cheese had all the melty and creamy goodness of provolone. Next comes multiple slices of tomatoes, fresh and thickly sliced. Top everything off with some biting red onion slices and just the right amount of pesto, and you have one amazing sandwich.

The kick of the onion plays well off of the savory pesto and sweetness of tomatoes. The cheese not only binds the flavors of the Poulet au Pistou, but it also fights against the sandwich shuffle that usually occurs when tomatoes start to slide off of the rest of the sandwich. Everything comes together to make one perfectly balanced bite. It’s as if the French has been putting bread, meat, and cheeses together for a long, long time.

There is a saying that adorns the wall of Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie’s seating area, it reads, “Tout ce dont le Parisien moderne a besoin.” In English it means, everything the modern Parisian needs. When it comes to Les Halles, they have everything you need, regardless of where you hail from. The Poulet au Pistou definitely meets that standard, and is one of our favorite sandwiches to grab when we want something delicious, maybe with that French flair, and we’re on the go!

11 August 2016

Famous Sausages

Meat on a stick. It’s a simple description that applies to a lot of dishes that cover the range from street and carnival foods all the way up to fancy hor d'oeuvres. This description also happens to be the hallmark of the summer staple, the corn dog. Over at the Harambe Market in Disney’s Animal Kingdom they have a couple varieties of meat on a stick, one of which is a nontraditional take on the corn dog, as a part of the Famous Sausages stall.

Let’s start with something simple, the Grilled Chicken Skewer. I don’t have a lot to say about this offering, other than I would order it again in a heartbeat. There are no fillers like onion, peppers, or tomatoes that you would see on a kebab. The skewer is just tender, grilled to perfection chicken. Nothing fancy, just delicious, and it makes you wonder about Famous Sausages’ main offering.

That would be the Beef and Pork Sausage, the Harambe Market equivalent of the corn dog, for those keeping track. This sausage is coated in a curried corn batter and then fried up to golden perfection. It looks like an odd, long and thin corn dog variation, and that is essentially where the comparison ends. The crispy batter tastes sweet; with a set of spices that definitely gives it an African vibe. The sausage is an excellent blend of pork and beef, and it completes the sweet and savory combo that this dish seeks to provide. It’s a hit with adults looking for something new, and I absolutely loved it, but I could see children not being thrilled with this dressed up version of their favorite summer meal.

Both entrees come with green papaya slaw and black-eyed pea, corn, and tomato salad currently. However, at the time when I sampled both the Grilled Chicken Skewer and the Beef and Pork Sausage, the side dish was a roasted broccoli and tomato salad. What I can offer up is that the vegetables were incredibly fresh, and provided a great burst of flavor that complimented the savory elements expertly. If they’ve kept that same level of quality in the transition of the side dishes, you will not be disappointed.

The Harambe Market has a lot of offerings, and most can be ordered across the various ordering lines, not just where you see the sign a specific stall. Each one is unique, but feels familiar somehow. I have long been a fan of almost any food that you can call meat on a stick, and Famous Sausage definitely hits the mark in its contributions to the larger market.

09 August 2016

Citrus Groves and Sea Turtles

Last year we showcased the artwork and story from the prospectus for Disney Vacation Club’s Hilton Head Island Resort. Today, we thought we would turn our attention to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.

With the Vero Beach Resort we’re going back to 1994, a year prior to the resort opened to the public. It is clear from The Inn is the hub of activity here and the sea turtles would figure prominently into the stories and activities of the resort. There are also stories present within Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. Just like Royce Edmunds for Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, within this brochure we are introduced to the area and the history by a longtime guest of Vero Beach, Katie Hindsdale. We’ll let her set the scene for you:

It all started back in 1890 – the summer Great Aunt Katie first took the train down to Vero Beach with her parents.
According to my Aunt Katie’s old travel diary, Vero Beach wasn’t much more than citrus groves and sea turtles back then. That was around the turn of the century – long before anyone guessed there was a shipwreck full of treasure off the coast here (but that’s another story, entirely).
Our family has summered here in Vero Beach for nearly a century. Every Hindsdale grandchild has spent their summers collecting shells and treasure along the shores. We’ve celebrated plenty of birthdays and anniversaries – even a wedding or two over the years. Vero Beach has become a real family treasure.
So you can imagine how delighted I was to discover Disney Vacation Club at Vero Beach, a beautiful seaside resort, built right on the Atlantic Ocean! This resort captures all the magic and old-fashioned charm of the great old resorts of Aunt Katie’s era.
I can’t imagine a place I’d rather spend time with my family and friends – relaxing in the warm Florida sunshine. And if Great Aunt Katie were still around, I’m certain she’d agree.
Katie Hindsdale

Pirates, citrus groves, the beach, and old Florida charm… Count me in! It’s easy to see why so many guests would come to love the Vero Beach Resort over the years. At the heart of any Disney experience guests will find the crossroads where family and friends meet unforgettable stories, and that is precisely what Vero Beach offers us in this quick glimpse.

02 August 2016

Relax, Enjoy, and Take in the Sights

When it comes to cocktails, I like to have one well-crafted drink and stick to it, than to continually mix it up all evening. However, I also love giving readers as much information as I can about the possibilities as I can. The latter leads to be having a lot of flights of things… not that I’m complaining! There are, of course, the times when you can well-crafted and flights, and those times make everyone happy. One such space where you can find both is the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge. Here I decided to give their martinis flight a spin.

Actually, the carousel the three drinks come on looks as if you could give it a spin like a roulette wheel if you wanted to! Although I don’t recommend this strategy unless you want to have your evening cut short by getting yourself, and you dining companion, covered in martinis. While a classic martini is gin and vermouth, with vodka commandeering a piece of the martini market in the 1950s, guests of the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge are treated to three very different styles of martinis. The flight comes with a Classic Gin (Hendrick’s Cucumber and Rose Petal Infused Gin and Dry Vermouth), Citrus Vodka (Absolut Citron Vodka, Cointreau, and Simple Syrup), and Derby Cosmo (Absolut Pear Vodka, Grand Marnier, and a splash of Cranberry Juice). Each is strikingly different from the others, but tasty in their own right.

The Classic Gin is precisely what you would expect. While you would be forgiven in thinking that the cucumber and rose petal infusion might take away from the traditional flavors of the gin martini, I found them to be very faint and only present in the background, adding a bit of freshness not often present in the cocktail. It isn’t mentioned in the menu description, but the Classic Gin does come with the standard accoutrement of green olives.

The Citrus Vodka is less a martini, save for the glass it comes served in, and more an oversized lemon drop shot. In fact, it comes complete with a sugared rim! This drink will make you pucker, but it isn’t the lemon, but rather the sweetness that will do it to you. This sugary nature of this concoction is clearly meant to hide some of the stronger alcoholic components of this drink. Those of you who like sweet cocktails would enjoy the full-sized version of the Citrus Vodka. For my palate, I’d only really consider it if I would looking for a dessert-type cocktail.

Last, but not least, is the Derby Cosmo. The Cosmopolitan has been around, at least in popular culture, since the 1970s, with variations dating back decades before and no shortage of variations since. The changes made to the Derby’s iteration do not drastically change the composition of this strong cocktail. A hint of fruit, citrus in particular, and the twinge of cranberry give the Derby Cosmo just a hint of something new and something old fashioned, much like the Hollywood Brown Derby itself.

The good news from the martinis flight is that there is truly something for everyone. The other side of that coin is that it is likely to find that at least one of the three will disappoint. My suggestion, unless you just have to try them all like I do, is to pick the one that speaks most strongly to you and never look back. Be a classic, something with a modern touch, or a bit of fun. It doesn’t matter which you choose to imbibe with, all of the martinis from the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge are well-crafted and can be just what you are looking for!

01 August 2016

Define and Refine Designs

In the spring of 2011 we started a series on the Main Street Gazette called Silent Saturday. No words, just a title, date, and a photograph. It was a simple way to find those great subjects, hidden nooks, and wonderful views and appreciate them for what they were. After over five years of this quick weekend series, however, we had something happen that had never happened before; someone asked for more information about the subject of one of our pictures. That photo happened to be of the scale model Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and since we’re here for the readers, here’s a bit more for all of you.

The model is a reproduction by Walt Disney Imagineering and sits in the lobby of the Frontier Tower of the Disneyland Hotel. They utilized the original model when constructing this 1/4” x 1’ miniature. The original was employed to test sightlines and ensure details were correct before moving to larger scale production. The concept model was created and nine plaster duplicates were made from it. Many of these duplicates were damaged or destroyed over the years, but one of these survived long enough for this replica to be created. It was installed in the Frontier Tower as part of the larger Disneyland Hotel refurbishment in 2011.

There are tons of vignettes and details to enjoy from this model! In fact the photo below of the “Welcome to Big Thunder” sign is such a favorite of mine, I have been using it as a background on my computer for the past two years. Let’s tour through some of the long and up close shots today and give this model the respect it deserves!