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April 16, 2014

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - April 2014

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

If you subscribe to the AllEars® Weekly Newsletter, you'll know that we run a little game called the Mousy Mindboggler. Sometimes it's a word game, sometimes it's a riddle, sometimes it's some other brain-teasing challenge -- but it's always fun!

Once each month, in the AllEars® Bits and Bites issue, our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) supplies us with a puzzle of his own design.

Around the middle of each month, James Shares the Magic in another way -- by posting an all-new puzzle here in this AllEars.Net Guest Blog. The subject of the puzzle will vary, and James will award the winner of the challenge a collectible Disney pin!

Here's April's challenge!

James says: So, this month we continue with the animated character series. Behind every successful man (mouse) there is a woman (womouse?), and Mickey is no exception! This month we delve deeper into the life of Minnie Mouse, but we still wonder if Mickey will ever make an honest mouse of her!

Here's the link to this month's puzzle:

http://allears.net/ae/mb041614.pdf

So... Think you know Disney inside and out? Put on your thinking cap!

The object is to have fun, of course, but if you want a chance to win a Disney collectible pin, arrange the letters that are circled in the puzzle to come up with the answer to the bonus question, which relates to the puzzle theme. Send your resulting answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com. Send the bonus term or phrase no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on May 7, 2014. All correct answers will be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be awarded a Disney pin. The answers and drawing winner will be posted in this Guest Blog, along with a new puzzle, in mid-May.

Thanks everyone for playing!

And GOOD LUCK!

MARCH SOLUTION:

Here is the answer key to last month's Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler:

http://allears.net/ae/mb031514-key.pdf

Of course, as many of you knew, Pluto is indeed a bloodhound. We received 82 correct repsonses.

The winner of a Cinderella collectible pin was Susan G. from Scarsdale, NY. Congratulations to Susan and thanks to everyone for playing!

As always, James would love to hear any feedback, or any ideas for themes you'd like to see covered in future puzzles. Drop James a line at dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

April 13, 2014

The Evolution of Disney Tickets

Gary Cruise banner

Walt Disney World tickets have certainly changed over the years!

No, I’m not going to rant about the price of tickets; other folks have that very well covered! I think that Disney tickets have always represented great value, so I’m going to talk about the tickets themselves. Let’s look at the form of the tickets; are they paper or plastic? What they will buy for you? How have they changed through the years?

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In the beginning there were E-Tickets. Yes, I know . . . there are at least two generations of folks out there who don’t know what old geezers like me are talking about when we refer to an E-Ticket. So, let me explain!

In 1971 when Walt Disney World opened they used the same ticketing system that had worked successfully at Disneyland since 1959. Guests paid a small General Admission fee ($3.50 for an adult) and then paid an additional fee for each attraction they visited. The attraction fees were paid using pre-packaged booklets of tickets which guests could purchase at the Ticket and Transportation Centre or at several booths in the park.

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The most popular attractions were referred to as “E-Ticket Rides” since they required an E-Ticket from your book. The mildest or least popular attractions required an A-Ticket. All rides and attractions were marked with the type of ticket required!

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In those early years there were several “Adventure Magic Key Ticket Books” with tickets for 7, 9 or 11 adventures. The 11 Adventure Magic Key Ticket Book cost $5.75 in 1971 and contained one A-Ticket, one B-Ticket, two C-Tickets, three D-Tickets and four E-Tickets. Additional tickets could be purchased individually if you needed them.

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At each attraction guests would tear the appropriate ticket out of their booklet and present it to the cast member. It sounds cumbersome by today’s standards, but that’s the way things worked 40 years ago and it worked well.

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Prices slowly increased during the 70’s and the ticket booklets changed as well. By 1976 there was a 2 day 18 Adventure Book.

When I first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1977 things were a bit different; they were still selling books of tickets, but guests could now purchase a 2-Day Magic Kingdom Passport which covered Magic Kingdom admission for 2 days, all rides and attractions, two days transportation to Magic Kingdom and the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Center. This was my first Disney ticket; although the Adventure books continued until 1982 – I never used an E-Ticket!

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Things changed in late 1982 when EPCOT opened. The ticket booklets were phased out in June of that year and guests could only purchase one day passports for either park or multi-day World Passports which included both parks and allowed access to all attractions. These paper tickets were stamped with the date as guests entered the park. Re-entry was permitted with a hand-stamp. (The “Park-Hopper” was born! However, it wasn’t until 1994 that the term “Park-Hopper” was coined by Disney and added as a ticket option.)

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The first Annual Passport was introduced in 1982; what a bargain at $100.00. Alas, I have no picture of one of those original passports. Today Annual Passports entitle holders to discounts in many Disney shopping and dining venues as well as periodic discounts at some Disney resorts. I have been unable to determine if these discounts were available in the 80’s.

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The Annual Passport pictured below, purchased in November 1989, was the first of many Annual Passports for my wife Carol. In addition to unlimited entry at the theme parks, it also provided free parking and a discount at Disney resort hotels.

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Disney-MGM Studios opened May 1, 1989 and that brought some more changes. The one-day ticket now cost $28.00 and covered any one of the three parks, with a re-entry privilege, but no park-hopping.

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The three, four or five-day World Passports did allow park-hopping.

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The 1990's brought a multitude of changes. In 1990 a 5-Day Plus Super Pass was introduced. It covered all three theme parks, plus Pleasure Island, Typhoon Lagoon, River Country and Discovery Island. Wow – that’s a lot of park hopping for $110.00

What could possibly be better than 5-Day Plus Super Pass? I’m so glad you asked! In 1991 along came the 5-Day Super Duper Pass - it included unlimited admission to the Disney-MGM Studios, Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center any five days with no expiration date, plus unlimited admission for seven days to Typhoon Lagoon, River Country, Discovery Island and Pleasure Island. Naturally it included unlimited use of the transportation system linking the parks.

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In 1992 technology began to creep into the ticketing process. Disney switched from all hand stamped tickets to turnstiles that automatically read the ticket’s bar code, stamped the admission tickets and punched out a number from the lower left corner of the ticket each time an admission was used. At the same time, 4-Day All Three Parks Passports were replaced by a 4-Day Super Pass and a 4-Day Super Duper Pass.

In 1994 they discontinued sales of the Super Pass and Super Duper Pass and coined a new term, Park Hopper, when they introduced the 4-day Park Hopper and the 5-day World Hopper. Disney introduced the first Premium Annual Passport this year, to the best of my knowledge this was the first plastic card, credit card sized. The Premium Annual Passport included unlimited access to the three theme parks, two water parks, Pleasure Island and Discovery Island.

I haven't been able to determine when Walt Disney World began adding guest pictures to Annual Passports, but it was 1989 or earlier since Carol's picture is on that 1989-90 passport pictured above. Those guest photos were discontinued in 1996, the same year that mylar paper tickets with a magnetic strip on the back replaced the previous paper tickets with bar codes.

For the first time, different categories of ticket displayed the same image on the face of the ticket. A 5-day ticket and a 10-day ticket might look identical on the surface; the magnetic strip contained information on the guest’s entitlements and privileges. Biometric finger scanners were added in conjunction with the new magnetic strip tickets.

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Both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and DisneyQuest opened in 1998. Admission to the Animal Kingdom park was included in all multi-day Park Hopper passports and admission to DisneyQuest was included in the Premium Annual Passport.

The next significant change in tickets took place in 2005 when the “Magic Your Way” ticket was introduced. This ticket plan has changed a bit but remains in effect today. Guests could purchase a one, two, three or four day Magic Your Way Base Ticket which gave access to any one park each day of the term – there was no Park Hopping with the base tickets. There were also five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten day Magic Your Way tickets which gave guests the option of purchasing a Park Hopper feature and a Water Park Fun & More feature.

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In March 2010 the new Premier Passport was offered. This ultimate passport includes all the features of the Premium Annual Passport, unlimited access to the four Florida theme parks, the two Florida water parks and DisneyQuest but it also includes unlimited entry at both Disney theme parks in Anaheim California. Sounds like a “must-have” for every true Disney fan! Carol and I used Premier Passports in 2010 and again in 2013. We really enjoyed the 20% discount on merchandise and food purchases and were disappointed when Walt Disney World reduced it to 10% in 2013. The discount is still 20% at Disneyland Resort in California.

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This brings us to the most significant ticketing change in Disney history – Magic Bands.

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Disney is spending about a billion dollars (that’s right – billion – with a “B”) to take advantage of RFID technology. The program started trials in September 2013 with selected resort guests and was very recently expanded to include Annual Passholders. These guests now receive a wrist band which contains an RFID chip.

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The ticketing structure and pricing remains unchanged and guests still receive a plastic ticket in the form of a Key To The World Card or Annual Passport, but all of their entitlement data is programmed on the RFID chip. There is no need to show your ticket when you enter a park, just hold your Magic Band up to a scanner, place your finger in a biometric reader, and away you go.

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The band also unlocks the door to your room in a Disney resort and it will open the entry gate when you drive into the resort. If you have a credit card on file with Disney and have elected to have charging privileges, the band even acts as your credit card – just scan it and enter your PIN.

What else can the bands do? Well, some pretty amazing stuff! You can use them with the “My Disney Experience” program to manage FastPass+. Up to 60 days before your trip to Walt Disney World, from the comfort of your own home, you can go online and book up to three FastPass+’s for each day of your trip.

On the appointed day, during the pre-determined one-hour time window you simply head to the FastPass Return line, scan your Magic Band and away you go! There is no need to get to the park early and rush off to pick up a FastPass. How cool is that! Alas, you can only get FastPass+’s for one park per day – no Park Hopping. I hope that option comes along soon.

A quick word of advice – be sure to use My Disney Experience to book your FastPass+’s in advance. All the old FastPass distribution machines have been removed from the parks. There are a few FastPass+ kiosks in the parks but at this point in time the lines are long. Very long!

So, in 43 years Disney has moved from little booklets of tear-out tickets to the amazing RFID technology of today’s Magic Bands. I don’t know about you, but I have certainly enjoyed the journey!

I wonder what the next step in the evolution will be?

P.S. AllEars.net Archivist Jack Marshall has compiled a very detailed list of prices for specific tickets, year by year, and pictures of hundreds of vintage old tickets. Click this link to see more: WDW Ticket History

April 9, 2014

Jim’s Attic: The Story of Beacon Joe

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The Story of Beacon Joe By Jim Korkis

Which original Disney character appears in three different attractions at Walt Disney World and was originally created for Disneyland?

I always hated it when teachers asked questions like that and they already knew the answer…and I was a public school teacher for several years after I graduated college so I always tried to help the students with the right answer.

The answer is in the title of this blog installment: Beacon Joe.

However, for many Disney fans that can still be a puzzling answer. When The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction opened in May 1967, it was the last Disney attraction personally overseen by Walt Disney himself.

It was Walt's idea to have the shallow boats drift leisurely through the Blue Bayou before plunging down a hidden waterfall to begin the pirate adventure. The musical chirp of unseen crickets and the faint glow of fireflies against the background of an indigo sky dotted with stars and slowly wafting clouds artistically frames this location to give it a false sense of calm.

The always innovative Walt Disney conceived of a quiet, upscale restaurant that would actually be inside an attraction. It was an idea that had never been done before and it was an instant hit with the many visitors to Disneyland. (My favorite treat at Disneyland is a Monte Cristo sandwich in the restaurant.)

There were discussions of including live entertainment in this quiet, restful environment but after a dress rehearsal during a trial dinner, Walt reportedly said, "In this restaurant, the food is going to be the show, along with the atmosphere".

Right across from the Blue Bayou restaurant and to the left of the guests in the boats is a shack where a bearded man wearing overalls leisurely rocks back and forth plucking out a tune on his banjo. That's Beacon Joe.

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Disney Legend Marc Davis designed both the character and the shack. In fact, the initial concept drawings came from his original designs for a Thieves Market that was going to be part of the attraction when it was planned to be a walk-through experience.

The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was initially not going to be installed in Florida so to brighten up the steamboat voyage around the Rivers of America in Frontierland, Davis installed Beacon Joe and his shack just around an upper curve in the river.

Joe was not there at the opening in 1971 but made his appearance sometime in late 1972 just before the opening of Tom Sawyer's Island in 1973 along with other residents added to the river banks like the Native Americans in their village.

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Joe is the last outpost of civilization before guests drift into the frontier wilderness.

He sits on the porch of his shack in front of Alligator Swamp smoking his corncob pipe. He keeps track of the river's occasional course changes and marks the river accordingly for the river traffic.

His faithful dog intensely watches a jumping fish (that looks suspiciously like a repainted piranha from the Jungle Cruise) with his head turning from left to right.

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Beacon Joe also appears in Tokyo Disneyland. He can be seen fishing, surrounded by barrels and with his faithful dog on the nearby stairs, near the large trestle of the Western River Railroad as the steamboat maneuvers around the Western River.

However, I mentioned that Beacon Joe appears in three different attractions just at Walt Disney World. It is not unusual for the Disney Company to re-use audio-animatronics sculpted figures. For instance, President Thomas Jefferson shows up as a sheriff on a balcony in The Great Movie Ride, along with some Caribbean pirates re-used as gangsters earlier in the attraction.

The character sculpt of Beacon Joe is used in The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction as the standing pirate in the last jail cell at the end of the ride trying to coax a dog to give him the key to the door. He also shows up clean shaven and wearing a crown at the ballroom banquet table in The Haunted Mansion.

Just like a supporting character actor in a film, Beacon Joe quietly makes his appearances to help the storytelling but never feels the necessity to be the star of the show. However, now, you know where he is and why he is there so give him a wave or a shout on your next visit.

RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
Disney Historian Jim Korkis goes up into his imaginary attic to rummage around his archives and often stumbles across an unusual story about Walt Disney World. Those who have met me know that I take real joy in talking about Walt Disney.

====================
Check out Jim's other "From the Attic" Blogs

Full features from the Walt Disney World Chronicles series by Jim Korkis can be found in the AllEars® Archives: http://allears.net/ae/archives.htm

Jim KorkisABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jim Korkis is an internationally respected Disney Historian who has written hundreds of articles about all things Disney for more than three decades. As a former Walt Disney World cast member, his skills and historical knowledge were utilized by Disney Entertainment, Imagineering, Disney Design Group, Yellow Shoes Marketing, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Feature Animation Florida, Disney Institute, WDW Travel Company, Disney Vacation Club and many other departments.

He is the author of three new books, available in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com: The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse

Who's Afraid of the Song of the South AND
"The REVISED Vault of Walt":


April 2, 2014

Dining Takes a Good Turn at the Garden Grill

Andrew Rossi

Despite the countless times I have visited Epcot’s Land pavilion, the Garden Grill Restaurant was one of the few Epcot dining locations to which I have never been. Many a time, when walking past to go ride Soarin’ or Living with the Land, I have commented on how this was a restaurant that I really wanted to try. However, for one reason or another, I continually put it off. This might have been due to the fact that there are so many restaurants at Epcot which I really enjoy or the simple fact that the Garden Grill is only open for dinner and its limited operating hours make reservations a little harder to come by. Whatever the reason, I finally decided to give the Garden Grill a try and I went in not really knowing what to expect. I knew that the dining room rotated, dinner was served family-style, and that it was a character dining experience, but that was about it. After having finally dined there, I can say that the Garden Grill surpassed my expectations and might actually be my new top location when it comes to character dining.

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Overview:
The Land pavilion has always had a restaurant in the current location of the Garden Grill, but it has gone through a series of iterations. When the pavilion opened in 1982, the restaurant was known as The Good Turn and remained that way until 1986. From 1986 through 1993 the restaurant was named The Land Grill Room. Along with the name change, the restaurant has changed in other ways as well. Most noticeably, the restaurant did not always feature characters, meals were not always served family-style, and for a good portion of its history the restaurant was open for both lunch and dinner. One thing that has stayed consistent throughout the restaurant’s history, however, is its rotating dining room. In fact, the Garden Grill is the only rotating restaurant in all of Disney World.

Atmosphere:
As noted above, one of the things that makes the Garden Grill so unique is that it is a rotating restaurant. Throughout the course of your meal, the restaurant slowly moves around in a counter-clockwise motion to allow diners to have a bird’s eye view of the Living with the Land boat ride below.

Passing by the rainforest scene, there is not much to see as the lush vegetation dominates most of the view. If you look closely, you might be able to catch a glimse of the waterfall through the foliage.

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However, the plants and trees give way as the dining room rotates towards the desert and the American prairie, passing by a series of large rock formations.

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The view then opens up to reveal the open grasslands below, complete with a family of buffalo animatronics.

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Next comes the classic American farmhouse, which even allows diners to catch a glimpse through the windows into the house’s second floor. Overall, it provides a unique perspective of Living with the Land, especially for someone who has ridden the ride many times.

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The dining room is split into lower and upper levels to offer all Guests a good view as they rotate. The lower level is comprised of semi-circular booths that face outward.

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Meanwhile, the upper level is composed of tables and chairs positioned high enough so that their view is not inhibited by those Guests sitting on the lower level.

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Of the two, I would give the edge to the tables on the lower level in terms of having the better view, but anyone is more than welcome to go and stand along the railing to look down on the boat ride below as the restaurant passes by.

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Of course, not all of the entire circuit the dining room makes overlooks the boat ride and at these points the walls are adorned with detailed painted murals depicting lush plants, trees, ferns, and flowers. If you look carefully, you might even be able to spot a very well-hidden Mickey.

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Another major component of the Garden Grill is its characters. Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale are all present and leisurely make their way around to each of the tables. This is an area where I felt the Garden Grill really excelled when compared with other character dining experiences. I felt as though we had some really good character interactions during our meal and they offered us plenty of time to take pictures and play around with them. Each one of the characters also came to our table multiple times throughout the course of our meal. This is quite a contrast to other character dining where the characters seem very rushed and briefly stop by your table for a quick picture before moving on. If you are dining with children who really love meeting Disney characters, the Garden Grill is a fantastic option. It also allows you to see Mickey in his farmer outfit, which you cannot find him in anywhere else.

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Overall, the Garden Grill provides a casual and relaxing setting. Its atmosphere relies more on the sights of the boat ride below rather than anything in the actual dining room to help set the feel and the restaurant’s characters adds an additional level of whimsy and fun to the dining experience. With the sounds coming from the boat ride below, it is not really a quiet restaurant but this is also not exactly the type of place you would go if looking for an intimate and romantic night out. The Garden Grill is a restaurant that definitely appeals to families, but even bigger kids will enjoy the scenic views and fun character interactions they have during their meal.

The Menu:
The Garden Grill features a pre-fixe menu offering an appetizer, entrée, and dessert all served family-style. The meal begins with a fresh Farmer’s Salad. The salad included an assortment of vegetables such as onions, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes along with hard boiled eggs and bacon bits. It is referenced on the menu as a “Harvest-Inspired” salad, which means that its contents can change depending upon what is in season. It is a very light and healthy way to start the meal and a good reminder of the fresh produce being grown in the greenhouses at the Land pavilion.

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After the salad comes the main course platter that includes an assortment of the three entrees of turkey, fish, and beef, each of which come with their own accompaniments. The turkey is served with a lemon-caper sauce, which we chose to have served on the side. I was very intrigued by this sauce and was surprised by how well it paired with the turkey. The turkey itself was juicy and tender, but the flavor of the lemon and capers really added a light and refreshing flavor that was a nice departure from your typical gravy. Along with the turkey was an artisan bread pudding, which was basically your traditional-style stuffing. There was nothing really noteworthy about this side dish, but you can’t go wrong pairing turkey with stuffing.

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Next was the sustainable fish of the day, which in this case was Mahi Mahi that came topped with a roasted tomato and pepper compote. Mahi Mahi is a very mild-flavored fish and I found this preparation of it to be just a little on the dry side. However, the tomato and pepper compote provided a tremendous amount of flavor and just the right amount of spiciness to give the fish a much-needed kick. The fish was served atop fresh garden vegetables that included a mixture of zucchini and squash.

The last entrée item on the platter was a char-grilled filet of beef that came topped with a red wine butter. For me, this was the part of the main entrée that really stole the show. The beef was so moist and tender with hardly any fat and the red wine butter provided even more rich flavor that complimented the beef extremely well. While the first portion of beef we received was a little more on the rare side, one of the members of our party requested some that was cooked well-done and this was quickly brought out to her. Along with the beef came a generous portion of buttermilk mashed potatoes which were just the perfect consistency, smooth and fluffy.

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Of course, since this family-style meal is all-you-care-to-eat, there is no shortage as to the amount of food you can get. Rather than bringing you out an entirely new platter, however, the server will simply ask you what you would like more of and then bring out additional plates with those items.

After all this food, there was still dessert to be had. The dessert was a freshly baked harvest fruit cobbler that came topped with vanilla bean whipped cream. The types of berries included in the cobbler can change depending on what is in season, but this one was blueberry. The dessert came served piping hot, the ooey-gooeyness of the berries and the light, fluffy cake combining perfectly with one another. The only thing I wish was that this dessert had been topped with vanilla ice cream. Despite this, the whipped cream served on top was so smooth and provided a nice refreshing flavor to the dessert.

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Overall, the entire meal is one which is very much inspired by the Land pavilion, its greenhouses, and the boat ride that passes just below the restaurant.

Service:
Sometimes at restaurants where the meals are served family-style there is a tendency for each course to be brought out in rapid succession, making your meal feel very rushed. I was glad to see that this was not the case at the Garden Grill and the meal progressed at a calm and relaxing pace. I also found the service to be very attentive. Our server was constantly checking in with our table to see if there was anything that we needed and whether she could bring us any more food. In addition, when we were having trouble locating the hidden Mickey on the dining room’s mural she got out a laser pointer to show us exactly where it was.

I would also include all the characters as a part of the service. While at other character dining locations you sometimes feel as though the characters are rushing from one table to another, at the Garden Grill we were able to have some great interactions with Mickey and the gang. Each character spent a good amount of time at our table and we were able to get multiple pictures with each of them. This in particular is one element of the Garden Grill that really helps to separate it from other character dining locations.

Dining on a Budget:
This is one thing that is a little difficult to do at the Garden Grill. Combining the all-you-care-to-eat nature of the menu along with the restaurant’s characters makes this dining experience a little pricey. The price for adults can range anywhere between $37 and $41 depending on whether it is off season or peak season while the children’s price ranges between $18 and $20. At the same time, however, these prices are comparable to a character dining experience like dinner at the Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom and less expensive than Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary. But, like as previously stated, the character interactions that you will have here are better than these other locations. If you have children that really enjoy meeting the Disney characters, then the Garden Grill is definitely worth the price and that’s on top of the high quality food as well.

The Garden Grill is on the Disney Dining Plan and is worth one table service credit, making it a really good value for your money. The restaurant also participates in Tables in Wonderland, allowing members to receive their 20% discount. However, there are no additional discounts for Annual Passholders or Disney Vacation Club Members.

The Overall Experience:
This was my first time dining at the Garden Grill and the restaurant exceeded my expectations in every way. I am not usually one who does character dining experiences, but I really enjoyed the interactions I had and great photos I got with Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale. In addition, the unique aspect of the dining room rotating and offering great views of the Living with the Land boat ride below help to make the dining experience even more memorable. On top of all this, the food features a wide assortment that offers a little something for everyone; served family style and all-you-care-to-eat, you will definitely not leave this restaurant hungry. While it might be a little on the more expensive side, I felt as though I completely got my money’s worth when dining here between the restaurant’s unique atmosphere and quality food offerings. If you are looking for a fun dining experience for the entire family then the Garden Grill is definitely worth a try.

See past restaurant reviews by guest blogger Andrew Rossi.

Check out Reader Reviews of the Garden Grill and post your own too!

March 28, 2014

Disney Vacation Club Member Magic at Splitsville

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by David Abel
AllEars® Guest Blogger


Back in February, Disney Vacation Club announced “Member Magic,” featuring a collection of discounts and events especially for Vacation Club members. One of the new events featured is Member Night at Splitsville Luxury Lanes™ at Downtown Disney. My traveling party during the Flower & Garden festival opted to experience this new event, so we booked a 5 p.m. session the first week of March. (At the time, there were 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. sessions. Now the DVC Members’ website indicates only a 6 p.m. event.)

We arrived at Splitsville a few minutes early and checked in at the main desk, providing our names and shoe sizes. Once our shoes were ready, we were escorted to our lane, lane #1 along the windows on the first floor. We soon found out we’d be joined by another family bringing the total number of bowlers on our lane to eight!


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As with any bowling outing, the event was only as fun as you make it. We had two full hours of bowling time, but with everything going on (including the food to be talked about shortly), we only bowled one full game and about four more frames.

With the package, which cost $188 for a party of four, we each received a 'Signature beverage' (a glass of beer or wine, or a refillable souvenir [soda] cup), a shared appetizer (one for every two people) and an entree. We ordered the Blazing Chicken and Alley Nachos for our appetizers, and then we ordered a Steak Fajita Bowl, Cheeseburger Deluxe and two Cheese Pizzas.

When a server came for our drink order, I asked for a raspberry ginger ale and was told they didn’t have that. When I commented that I thought they had a 'Coke Freestyle' machine, I was told that wasn't included in our package, so we just ordered four regular sodas. The server brought us our beverages and then he never came back. I noticed DVC members at other lanes receiving the souvenir cups for the Freestyle machine. These members told me that the cups were included, so I asked the server taking care of the lane next to us, and she brought us our cups.

The food pretty much came all at once and we hardly had enough room on the table for all of it!


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At the end of the event, we were given a 'bill' even though we had pre-paid. The waiter explained that we didn’t need to pay it, but that it was only 'informational,' as gratuity was not included. On our way out, I asked about the 'special gift' listed on the website and we were each given a pair of Splitsville socks.

So how do I really feel about the event? Having been a Disney Vacation Club member since the very beginning, I must say this is the most disappointed I’ve been with anything related to DVC. Most of this disappointment falls directly on Splitsville, but some I feel also falls on DVC.

In the recent issue of Disney Files Magazine, there's a description of the event: "The special package includes an extended bowling time of an hour and 45 minutes with shoe rental, a shared appetizer, a select entree, a signature beverage and a special Disney Vacation Club gift, all for a fixed price that represents a significant savings off the regular cost of a standard bowling session with equivalent food and beverage. Special decor and entertainment, including music by Radio Disney, add to the festive atmosphere."

The 'extended bowling time of an hour and 45 minutes' is confusing as that's the time shown on Splitsville's website for 6-8 people, and we actually bowled for two hours. Maybe this is a misprint in the magazine.

The amount of food, coming as it did all at one time, was too much for the tables at the alleys, especially since we had eight people bowling and eating. I would have preferred to have the appetizers while we bowled, and then the entrees afterward (when our bowling clock was done ticking).

Maybe I set my expectations too high, but I don't really consider a pair of Splitsville socks to be a "special Disney Vacation Club gift." I was hoping for an exclusive pin designed for the event.

I also question whether the "fixed price represents a significant savings off the regular cost." As I said before, I was charged $188 for the four people in my party. By my calculations, the regular cost of our event was $213.80, indicating there was indeed a 12 percent savings. However, had we really been there "on our own," we would have used our Tables In Wonderland card on the food and beverages and we wouldn’t have purchased the Splitsville socks. Our bill would have been $167.84, which would have been 10.7 percent less than the DVC's "significant savings" price.

As for the special decor, there were balloons tied to the ball returns. Maybe there was music by Radio Disney, but we didn't really pay notice to that. We didn't see or meet any representation of Disney Vacation Club, or anything that made it really special.

Splitsville was hosting a major reception event the night we were there, and the whole second floor was dedicated to that. I wonder if that event had not been going on, would we have had a different experience? I really hope other members have better feelings about this event than I did.


March 26, 2014

Jim’s Attic: The Mickey Mouse Glasshouse Balloon

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The Mickey Mouse Glasshouse Balloon
By Jim Korkis

As a young boy, one of my delights was getting a Mickey Mouse helium balloon at Disneyland.

A Mickey ear-shaped latex balloon has actually been around since the 1940s. Filling it with helium so it could float seductively in the air was something unique when it was introduced by Nate Lewis early in 1956 at Disneyland.

Recently, I got a chance to do a lengthy interview with Treb Heining who began his life-long career as a “balloon guy” when he first started selling Mickey Mouse helium balloons at Disneyland in 1969. He was just fifteen years old and he turned the experience he got working at Disneyland for several summers into a remarkable career.

Heining has been responsible for the balloon effects at eighteen Super Bowls, the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics Games, and every Republican National Convention since 1988 as well as two presidential inaugurations.

He is the creator of the “balloon archway” that has become so commonplace but more importantly, he created both the Mickey Mouse helium balloon inside of a clear balloon, known as a glasshouse, as well as the Mickey Mouse helium balloon that lights up specifically for Disney theme parks.

Heining's highly successful Glasshouse Balloon Company, Inc. employs over 50,000 people worldwide and has provided balloon effects for many Disney events.

“The Mickey Mouse balloon is by far the hardest balloon to inflate,” Heining told me. “Latex balloons don't do well in the sun or extremely hot temperatures. The sun causes the latex to “oxidize” (turn from a shiny finish to dull) and eventually, as the helium leaks out, Mickey can lose an ear as it deflates.

“In the early days they sold both the Mickey Mouse balloon and also regular round balloons known as Agates. They also experimented with putting a mousehead inside another clear latex balloon. This is where the term glasshouse balloon came from as the guests called this balloon �" a mousehead inside of a clear latex balloon �" ‘Mickey Mouse in a glasshouse'.”

The problem with this type of balloon was oxidation. The clear outside balloon would age quickly in the sun and as the interior oxidized it made it difficult to see the Mickey Mouse balloon inside of it. So, this experiment was quickly abandoned for just the regular familiar mousehead.

mmheadballoon2.jpg

Almost two decades later, working with Henry Unger & Associates in the late 1980s, Heining stumbled on a way to overcome the challenges. Unger introduced him to a Japanese product called the “T” balloon where a small round plastic balloon could cover nine and eleven inch latex balloons.

Playing around with the product, Heining discovered he could make the “T” balloon big enough to inflate a fifteen inch mousehead balloon inside of it.

“Once we had the initial run of product, we decided it was important to test it first before presenting to Disneyland,” recalled Heining.

“I approached the Los Angeles County Fair folks about running a balloon concession that September and they loved the idea. That gave us a chance to test the product in all types of conditions including very hot temperatures. The glasshouse balloon performed very well. The outside plastic part kept the latex inside from oxidizing (getting cloudy) and the balloon itself would float for weeks and weeks �" in most cases more than a month.

“The name glasshouse came from a friend �" Karen Lampson �" who told me that guests at Disneyland used to call the Mickey Mouse inside the clear balloon (both latex back then) Mickey Mouse in a glass house. It seemed logical then to call this new balloon: glasshouse.

“Henry set up the meeting with Disneyland and once we walked in with an umbrella of 50 glasshouse, the only question was how soon we could deliver to the Park.”

On that first day in 1996, the glasshouse balloon sold in only one location in Tomorrowland outsold three to one the mylar foil balloons sold in five other locations throughout Disneyland.

“The glasshouse balloon took over the number one spot in Outdoor Vending very quickly and remains the top selling balloon of all time,” stated Heining.

In 2002, Heining enhanced the experience once again with the introduction of a colorful light up stick inside the balloon.

“Balloons are happy and when done in the right way, create joy for both children and adults. When they see hundreds or thousands perfectly inflated and arranged, it creates its own magic and takes them to a place that nothing else can,” Heining told me.

RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
Disney Historian Jim Korkis goes up into his imaginary attic to rummage around his archives and often stumbles across an unusual story about Walt Disney World. Those who have met me know that I take real joy in talking about Walt Disney.

====================
Check out Jim's other "From the Attic" Blogs

Full features from the Walt Disney World Chronicles series by Jim Korkis can be found in the AllEars® Archives: http://allears.net/ae/archives.htm

Jim KorkisABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jim Korkis is an internationally respected Disney Historian who has written hundreds of articles about all things Disney for more than three decades. As a former Walt Disney World cast member, his skills and historical knowledge were utilized by Disney Entertainment, Imagineering, Disney Design Group, Yellow Shoes Marketing, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Feature Animation Florida, Disney Institute, WDW Travel Company, Disney Vacation Club and many other departments.

He is the author of three new books, available in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com: The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse

Who's Afraid of the Song of the South AND
"The REVISED Vault of Walt":


March 23, 2014

The Imagineers - Doing It Right!

Gary Cruise banner

I am a big fan of the Imagineers! I am constantly awed and impressed by the way they design and build all of those components that make up the Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line ships.

Of course, Walt Disney was the first Imagineer . . . even before he invented that job title. Walt was an artist and animator – he honed his skills in the days before 3D, computer generated graphics and digital images. He created hours and hours of engaging entertainment using nothing more than a pencil, paper and his amazing imagination.

In the earliest days of his career Walt devised some unique drawing and photographic techniques and used them in his animations in such a subtle way that viewers were unaware that their eyes were playing tricks on their minds. When Disney Studios began producing live-action movies they acquired another set of skills – creating backdrops and background scenery, using creative camera angles to control what the viewer sees.

I guess it was only natural that when Walt set out, over 60 years ago, to create a theme park he would employ all those skills and techniques he had perfected over the years. He surrounded himself with creative people, who he dubbed Imagineers, and motivated them to follow a consistent approach to their work.

Walt’s approach was quite simple . . . just like his animated cartoons or live-action movies; everything began with a story board. Every building, every thrill ride, every attraction began with a highly detailed story board. First and foremost there had to be a “back-story” and then every detail of the building, ride or attraction had to be consistent with that back-story.

This has resulted in an amazingly immersive experience. Disney parks are like no other parks I have ever seen. They are designed to totally engage you in the time or place which surrounds you. Tomorrowland feels like the future . . . Frontierland puts you in the Wild West . . . Main Street USA takes you back over 100 years to the early 1900’s.

When I first visited the Magic Kingdom 36 years ago I was instantly impressed by the consistent attention to detail and quality throughout the parks. Since that time I have traveled to some of the places that are recreated on Disney property and those travels have done nothing but heighten my respect for the Imagineers and the way they replicate these worlds for our enjoyment.

Let me give you a few examples.

Our favourite Moderate Resort is Port Orleans French Quarter and we had stayed there several times before we visited New Orleans. When we arrived in the original French Quarter my eyes just popped . . . Wow! The Imagineers did a terrific job recreating the building style – but they somehow cloned the exciting atmosphere of the French Quarter as well.

New_Orleans_French_Quarter
The French Quarter in New Orleans

Then just a few years later we made our first trek west to Disneyland. Once again my eyes popped as we strolled through New Orleans Square. Awesome – a jazz band was playing and it felt just like being in New Orleans at Jackson Square. The galleries draped with beads . . . perfect!

Disneland_New_Orleans_Square
Disneyland's New Orleans Square

During one of our California trips we headed to San Diego and stopped at the beachfront Del Coronado Hotel. The Grand Floridian Hotel was modeled after the Del Coronado. How do you think the Imagineers did with the project?

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Hotel Del Coronado

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Grand Floridian Hotel

Last summer Carol and I took our motor home and toured the Jersey Shore. Miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches and all those boardwalks. Of course we were drawn to compare the Atlantic City Boardwalk with the Disney version – another great replication.

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Atlantic City Boardwalk

Disney_Boardwalk
Disney's Boardwalk

Since I’m Canadian I naturally have to look for some Canadian icons to compare. Let’s focus for a minute on the Canadian Pavilion at EPCOT. The pavilion itself is modeled after the Chateau Laurier Hotel, on the banks of the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, our national capital.

EPCOT_Canada_Pavilion
EPCOT's Canada Pavilion

Chateau_Laurier_Hotel
Chateau Laurier Hotel

The gardens at the Canada Pavilion are meant to duplicate the magnificent Butchart Gardens in Victoria British Columbia. What do you think of the copy?

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Gardens at the Canada Pavilion

Butchart_Gardens
Butchart Gardens

The Imagineers do so many creative things to engage, amuse and even educate us. Think of the time you spend waiting in line at Toy Story Midway Mania, Expedition Everest or Kali River Rapids. If you are like me, you are seldom bored waiting in line. Those queues are filled with artefacts, memorabilia and oddities, many of them gathered by Imagineers as they travelled the world researching the Himalayas or some other exotic locale to develop their back-story. There’s always something interesting that catches my attention. If you have ever been in a queue and a fat old man with a white moustache waved you past while he looked at some little trinket – that was probably me!

Do you always see what the Imagineers do? No, of course not, and neither do I. But once in a while we all need to stop rushing from one thrill ride to the next and take a minute to just look around and savour our surroundings. Look for the little things; try to focus on the things the Imagineers didn’t really have to do – but they did them anyway!

Try this: Next time you are leaving Splash Mountain, stop for a few minutes in the Briar Patch, the little shop on the right as you climb the steps. There are rocking chairs in the shop – sit down in one, stretch out and relax, then look up at the ceiling. What do you see? Briars and roots – you really are in the bottom of the briar patch! That’s what I mean – they didn’t have to do that but what a great idea!

Do you have a favourite Imagineering idea? Something the Imagineers created that really adds to your Disney experience?

March 18, 2014

No RV? No Problem! Fort Wilderness Rentals

Gary Cruise banner

If you have read some of my previous blogs, you know how much Carol and I enjoy staying at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground in our motor home. It's our favourite Disney resort. As you were reading, did you ever think, “That sounds like fun! I'd sure like to give it a try, but I don't own a camper.”

Don't give up on the idea! If you really like the prospect of camping at Walt Disney World, why not rent a camper and try it out before you pay out the money to buy your own RV? There are quite a few companies who rent campers . . . and they make it very easy for you. They deliver the unit to Fort Wilderness and set it up; once you arrive all you have to do is move in!

If you do an internet search using “Walt Disney World camper rental” you will find a number of rental options, including all different shapes and sizes of trailers. There's a solution for every family!

Carol's 84 year-old parents, John and Sybil, have listened to our tales of Fort Wilderness for several years and just last month they were able to experience first hand what we had been describing. We decided almost a year ago to take them along on a trip with us and set them up in a rented trailer at a camp site near ours. Once the decision was made, Carol got to work analyzing all the options. She did an online search, narrowed the list of rental companies down to a short-list of about a half-dozen companies who had pet-friendly units and started looking at dates and specific trailers.

She was able to find a very roomy 5th Wheel Trailer quite quickly through a small, family owned-business and before you could say “It was all started by a mouse” she had the two camp sites reserved and the trailer booked for a two-week stay. Carol used our reliable travel agency, Mouse Fan Travel, to book the camp site and worked closely with Rod, the owner of the camper rental company, to ensure that we ended up in side-by-side sites at the campground. We had given Disney agents our permission to share our information with Rod so he was able to text us the campsite numbers Disney had assigned before we arrived. They were exactly where we had hoped to be so we gave him the go-ahead to set up before we pulled in.

Florida_Welcome_Sign

We arrived on Valentine's Day and there was John and Sybil's little Shangri-La, fully equipped and ready for occupancy. It had been delivered to the campground that morning, set up on the site and all the utilities were connected. The patio mat was in place in front, four lawn chairs had been arranged on the mat, the electric golf cart (included in our rental package) was fully charged and ready to go! How easy was that?

The_Trailer

Here's a YouTube video showing a typical trailer being set up!

Naturally we added a few little touches of our own, a Mickey Mouse lamp post and some Mickey rope lights – then it was perfect!

Now_it's_perfect

The trailer was wonderful; a 35-foot-long, 5th wheel model with three slide-out rooms, two in the living area and one in the upstairs bedroom. John, Sybil and our son Rob were very comfortable and had plenty of elbow room.

When they entered the RV, the kitchen, dining area and living room were on their left and the bathroom and bedroom were up a few steps to the right. The unit was fully equipped with dishes, pots, pans, utensils, toaster and coffee maker. Even the coffee filters were included – nothing was overlooked.

All the linens were supplied; the bed was made and the towels were hung when we arrived. It could not have been simpler; the only thing we had to do was pull out the hide-a-bed couch at the end of the day – that's where Rob slept.

The_Living_Room

The living room had a couch, two very comfortable recliner chairs and a large entertainment centre with television, stereo and DVD player.

The_Living_Room

The kitchen contained a large refrigerator, microwave oven, three burner gas range, double sink, toaster, coffee maker and all the pots, pans, utensils and cleaning products you need. All we had to add were some groceries!

The_Kitchen

Opposite the kitchen was the dining area, a table and four chairs, which also doubled as Sybil's computer desk!

The_Dining_Area

Up a few steps from the living area, behind a solid privacy door, was the three-piece bathroom. There was a full adult-sized shower, a porcelain toilet and a sink and vanity.

The_Vanity

Past the bathroom was the bedroom which offered a very comfortable queen sized bed, plenty of closet space and loads of drawers for storage.

The_Bedroom

Before long John, Sybil and Rob were all settled in their new home and it was time for them to discover what makes a Fort Wilderness vacation so much different than staying at any other Disney resort.

It is very difficult to explain how comfortable a Fort Wilderness vacation is . . . it's probably due to the distinct absence of any “hustle and bustle”. No one there is in a hurry, everyone is laid back.

People stroll at Fort Wilderness; they ride bicycles; they take nature walks and they walk their dogs. Total strangers will say hello as they walk past, often they will stop and chat. It's like stepping back 50 years in time to those good old days when we smiled at our neighbours and they smiled back.

The campground is filled with wildlife; there are thousands of squirrels but there's so much more than that to see. The folks in the camp site next to us were from Maine and they spent a great deal of time sitting out in lawn chairs behind their RV. Every day they spotted deer and wild turkeys as they waited to see that hard-to-spot pileated woodpecker we often heard rapping in a nearby tree. As I sat reading under the awning of our RV I often heard, and occasionally saw, the cardinals which were nesting in the palmetto bush just a few feet away.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like being away out in the wild, not by a long shot. There are plenty of activities for all ages at the campground . . . but it's also very easy to just "mellow out" there.

Waiting_for_the_boat

What a treat to wake up in the morning hearing the boat whistles in the background! The boat ride to the Magic Kingdom is a wonderfully scenic way to start your day. And every night you can hear both Wishes and Illuminations – you can even see them through the trees from some camp sites! The Fort Wilderness beach is a terrific spot to watch the Wishes fireworks show as the starbursts reflect off the waters of Bay Lake. The sound track is piped in, so you don't miss a thing! Then at 9:45 every night the Electric Water Pageant sails by.

Even our dogs love Fort Wilderness Resort; they looked forward to their golf cart rides to the off-leash dog park!

Trip_to_the_dog_park

There are so many things we love about Fort Wilderness; I've barely scratched the surface.

Was our rental experience perfect? The 5th wheel trailer was very nice but we did have a little plumbing issue. A call to the company brought an immediate resolution. Rod was there in no time; the issue was fixed and all was working again in just a few hours. He was very easy to work with and very responsive whenever we called or texted him, before our arrival and after. We were really impressed with the service and definitely recommend the company to others.

You might be wondering how John and Sybil enjoyed their stay. We quickly settled into a routine – after breakfast at our individual campers we all hopped in the car and headed to one of the theme parks for a few hours. Lunch was sometimes a quick counter-service meal as we left the park to head home for the afternoon; other times we had sandwiches at the campground. Everyone relaxed for the afternoon. Some of us went to the pool, some to the off-leash dog park, some napped or sat in the sun reading. Ahhh! Nice! Most evenings we returned to one of the parks for dinner and a few more attractions. We had plenty of fun with no “hustle and bustle.”

On the trip home John said, “That was worth every penny we spent. We had a wonderful time!”
Would they do it again? Oh yeah - in a heartbeat.

So if you think you would like to give Disney camping a try, why don't you get busy with that search, rent a camper, book a camp site and make it happen!

March 15, 2014

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - March 2014

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

If you subscribe to the AllEars® Weekly Newsletter, you'll know that we run a little game called the Mousy Mindboggler. Sometimes it's a word game, sometimes it's a riddle, sometimes it's some other brain-teasing challenge -- but it's always fun!

Once each month, in the AllEars® Bits and Bites issue, our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) supplies us with a puzzle of his own design. The puzzles have some sort of Disney theme, of course, but will not be restricted to the Disney theme parks. The type of puzzle is up to James. Also up to him? The bestowing of a prize -- a collectible Disney pin from his extensive collection.

Around the middle of each month, James also Shares the Magic in another way -- by posting a puzzle here in this AllEars.Net Guest Blog. Again, the subject of the puzzle will vary, and James will award the winner of the challenge a collectible Disney pin!

James says: This month we continue with the animated character series. That lovable pup, Pluto is next.

Here's the link to this month's puzzle:

http://allears.net/ae/mb031514.pdf

So... Think you know Disney inside and out? Put on your thinking cap!

The object is to have fun, of course, but if you want a chance to win a Disney collectible pin, arrange the letters that are circled in the puzzle to come up with the answer to the bonus question, which relates to the puzzle theme. Send your resulting answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com. Send the bonus term or phrase no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on April 10, 2014. All correct answers will be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be awarded a Disney pin. The answers and drawing winner will be posted in this Guest Blog, along with a new puzzle, in mid-April.

Thanks everyone for playing!

And GOOD LUCK!

FEBRUARY SOLUTION:

Here is the answer key to last month's Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler:

http://allears.net/ae/mb021714-key.pdf

The name of Goofy's duck decoy in the 1947 short, “Foul Hunting” was Clementine. We received 65 correct responses.

The winner of this month's random drawing from all the correct responses was Michael M. from Northwood, OH. Michael won a collectible Disneyland Haunted Mansion pin. Congrats and thanks for playing!

As always, James would love to hear any feedback, or any ideas for themes you'd like to a see covered. Drop James a line at dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

March 12, 2014

Jim’s Attic: A Short History of Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

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A Short History of Tony's Town Square Restaurant By Jim Korkis

When Main Street U.S.A. opened at the Magic Kingdom in Florida in October 1971, right there in Town Square was the Town Square Café with an open air porch where patrons could watch the stream of guests rushing in and out of the park.

The food and beverage location offered breakfast, lunch and dinner and was themed to the elegant Victorian era. Originally, the venue was going to be sponsored by a coffee company but the proposed participant backed out.

It ended up being sponsored by Oscar Mayer from 1971-1981. Diminutive spokesman for the company, Little Oscar (actually affable George Molchan) in his white chef's hat, was there greeting guests and handing out the iconic wiener whistles to eager children.

tony-oscar2.jpgtony-oscar1.jpg

However, it was not a variety of Oscar Mayer hot dogs that were served at the location but upscale fare like a Monte Cristo sandwich and Crepes Jambalaya. Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola were available as well on the menu.

When Oscar Mayer declined to renew its sponsorship, the location was taken over by Hormel who handled the operation from 1981 to 1989. The menu was a large four page newspaper entitled “Town Square Times” with the first page devoted to the history of the Hormel company. The new sponsor still sold a Monte Cristo sandwich along with a Main Street Deli Plate and Fresh Catfish.

When Hormel decided not to continue sponsorship in 1989, the Disney Company did an extensive rehab of the restaurant converting it into Tony's Town Square Restaurant.

The restaurant references the Italian restaurant in the Disney animated feature classic Lady and the Tramp (1955) where two canines shared a romantic moment over a plate of spaghetti and meat balls.


The proprietor of the film's eatery is a larger-than-life, black-mustached, friendly character named Tony voiced by actor George Givot, known for his dialect comedy and fine singing voice, who passed away in 1984.

After a recent rehab, Tony's image is now smiling from a brand new overhead sign.

The waiting area has a television playing a clip from the film and the interior of the restaurant is decorated with Lady and the Tramp artwork as well as a sculpted fountain.


tonys201.jpg


For over thirty years, Don “Ducky” Williams has been a Senior Character Artist at Walt Disney World. During that time, he supplied artwork for memorable pieces of merchandise like the special limited edition lithographs for the Disney Cruise Line and the Disney Vacation Club.

Sometimes, his talents were tapped for unusual projects like Tony's Town Square Restaurant.


tonys-200.jpg


“I did the artwork for all the china, signage, menus, etc. In fact, when it first opened, it had plates, saucers, creamers and more with my Lady and the Tramp artwork on it,” commented Williams when I interviewed him. “They found the guests loved it so much that they kept stealing it so they replaced them with regular china. The remainder they had they sold at Disneyana conventions.

“Do you see all those framed paintings on the wall? There are twelve of them and I did them all. Those are the original paintings framed under glass, not prints or reproductions. If they ever change out that place, I would love to have those back to put up in my house.”

Don Ducky Williams


Disney enthusiast Greg Ehrbar was responsible for writing the original two-sided kid's menu that was designed to resemble the comics section from the “Main Street Gazette”. Besides the menu, it featured games and puzzles and an original comic strip. Unfortunately, this particular menu has been retired.

Some Disney fans are unimpressed with the menu offerings at Tony's but everyone is appreciative of the artistic “theming” of the space and how it captures the spirit of one of Disney's most beloved animated features. I wonder if there are any left over hot dogs in the back from Oscar Mayer for Tramp's many friends?

Deb's Note:
Ducky was a special guest of AllEars during our December to Remember Celebration in 2011. We designed a special AllEars Trading Card dedicated to his work at Tony's Town Square.

TC_48_Front_small.jpg


RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
Disney Historian Jim Korkis goes up into his imaginary attic to rummage around his archives and often stumbles across an unusual story about Walt Disney World. Those who have met me know that I take real joy in talking about Walt Disney.

====================
Check out Jim's other "From the Attic" Blogs

Full features from the Walt Disney World Chronicles series by Jim Korkis can be found in the AllEars® Archives: http://allears.net/ae/archives.htm

Jim KorkisABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jim Korkis is an internationally respected Disney Historian who has written hundreds of articles about all things Disney for more than three decades. As a former Walt Disney World cast member, his skills and historical knowledge were utilized by Disney Entertainment, Imagineering, Disney Design Group, Yellow Shoes Marketing, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Feature Animation Florida, Disney Institute, WDW Travel Company, Disney Vacation Club and many other departments.

He is the author of three new books, available in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com: The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse

Who's Afraid of the Song of the South AND
"The REVISED Vault of Walt":


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