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November 23, 2014

From the Tickle Trunk - Disney Matchbooks

Gary Cruise banner

Here's another piece of Disney history plumbed from the depths of the Tickle Trunk – Disney matchbooks!

Carol's old pine box of memories contains a shiny metal box full of matchbooks she collected decades ago!

Match Book Tin

Times were much different in the 1970's and 1980's and our acceptance of tobacco smoke and those who used tobacco products was much more open.

These days there are a few designated smoking areas scattered around Disney parks. Sometimes they are hard to find and at other times my nose can pick them out very easily. But in the early days smoking was permitted almost everywhere in the parks; even in restaurants!

There was a Tobacconist Shop on Main Street in Disneyland and in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. These stores displayed and sold hand-crafted pipes and tobaccos from around the world. Cigars and cigarettes were also available, but they were kept discretely under the counter.

Almost every Disney resort and restaurant had matchbooks which were given away free to customers. Yes, it was a vastly different time!

By the mid '80's the health risks associated with tobacco smoke were becoming clearer and public perception brought about slow but persistent change. Disney matchbooks are no longer available, smoking is now taboo in restaurants and designated smoking areas are few and far between.

The Tobacconist Shop in Florida closed in 1985 and the California shop followed suit in 1991. I suspect that we have seen the last of Disney matchbooks!

If you have any old Disney matchbooks be sure to hold onto them, they are real collector’s items.

Here are a few examples from Carol's matchbook collection!

Match Books

More Match Books_2

There are even a few match boxes!

Match Boxes and books

And here are a few added bonuses at no extra cost!

1) Two Disney ash trays!

Disneyland Ash Tray
Do you see the faint gold printing inside the ash tray? It reads "Disneyland"

Orange Bird Ash Tray

2) A few Disney sewing kits!

Sewing Kit - Grand Floridian
From the Grand Floridian

Sewing Kits

Yes, that old Tickle Trunk has a bit of everything in it, great memories from years gone by!

November 17, 2014

Rhode Island Comic Con

rhode-island-comic-con.jpg

by J. Scott Lopes
AllEars Guest Blogger

If you don't think you can find much Disney at a Comic Con event, think again! Over the weekend of November 1-2, the Rhode Island Comic Con was held at the RI Convention Center. This was the third year of the event and was the biggest so far.

Besides meeting Star Trek stars such as William Shatner, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Walter Koenig, I decided to set off on a mission to find as many Disney-related things there that I could.

The Stars

There were numerous stars on hand over the weekend, including many who have Disney ties. Rebecca Mader, an English actress who played the role of Wicked Witch of the West in ABC-TV's Once Upon a Time, was at the event signing autographs for a long line of fans.

rebecca-mader.jpg

Christy Carlson Romano, voice of Disney Channel's old show Kim Possible, was also on hand to sign autographs and record voicemail messages. I was able to speak to her briefly before the show floor was open to the general admission ticketholders, and she discussed with me how she liked working for Disney and tries to keep in touch with them. She is also working on a new TV movie, Where Fate Meets.

christy-carlson-romano.jpg


Brian Muir, a famous sculptor who created the Darth Vader helmet and armor, talked to me about how it took about a month to create the costume. He is currently working on the new Star Wars VII movie but was unable to comment further on that. He has also worked on other Disney/Marvel Comics movies, such as Guardians of the Galaxy.

rhode-island-comic-con-brian-muir.jpg

There were other personalities, too, such as Michael Kingma, who played a Wookiee in Star Wars: Episode III, and other illustrators and artists.

The Merchandise

There were many opportunities to purchase Disney-related items and artwork. From prints, to Frozen-inspired jewelry, to patches with Disney princesses -- there were items that would appeal to fans from all branches of the Disney universe, including Star Wars and Marvel Comics fans.

rhode-island-comic-con-comics.jpg


rhode-island-comic-con-prints.jpg


rhode-island-comic-con-figures.jpg


The Fans

Cosplay, the art of dressing up as your favorite character, is another popular thing to do at Comic Con. Here are a few folks who dressed up as characters with Disney affiliations:

rhode-island-comic-con-cosplay.jpg

rhode-island-comic-con-cosplay-2.jpg

rhode-island-comic-con-cosplay-1.jpg


Kids Con

Also at the convention, there was an area that had many sessions devoted to kids' interests. There was even a story time with Disney princesses, Frozen characters and Merida from Brave.

rhode-island-comic-con-kids.jpg


Everything Else

There were also many replicas on display as well, such as a replica of a truck from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

rhode-island-comic-con-shield.jpg

Star Wars, too, was well-represented, with a replica of a landspeeder from Star Wars on hand, as well as an R2D2 roaming the halls.

I wanted to get in on the action, so for a small donation to the Make-a-Wish Foundation I was able to jump into a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark and swap the idol!


rhode-island-comic-con-lopes.jpg


Overall, this was a great event, and I am looking forward to going again next year. It’s going to be a huge undertaking to top this year’s event! This event is one that every Disney and Marvel comic fan should attend.

November 16, 2014

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - November 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!

This month, James writes:

Here's the answer key to the October Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler Word Search:

http://allears.net/ae/mb101614-key.pdf

There were 71 responses to the word search puzzle on WDW bodies of water. The first 10 unused letters in the puzzle were JOZFUSKLVM.

The winner of a Mike & Sully pin was Jessica P. of Lakewood, CO. Thanks for playing!

This month we are going to continue with a word search puzzle, but this time the subject will be animated PIXAR characters.

From 1995 when the first “Toy Story” arrived in theaters to the latest “Monsters University,” it seems Pixar Animation Studios can do no wrong. Disney was so impressed with the company, they decided to bring them into the fold in 2006. During that time they have created literally hundreds of lovable characters, from toys to monsters. At Disney they like to say it all started with a mouse, but at Pixar I guess you could say it all started with a lamp and a ball!

Here's the link to the new word search puzzle:

http://allears.net/ae/mb111614.pdf

If you'd like to be entered for a chance to win a collectible Disney pin, there’s no need to send me the completed puzzle; just list the first 10 unused letters, starting with the first row of the puzzle. Send your resulting answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on December 12, 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-December.

Since I actually received some wrong answers for the first two word search puzzles, I’m wondering if they may be too hard? What does everyone think? Any feedback on the different format would be appreciated! Drop me a line at dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

And Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

November 9, 2014

Memories of River Country

Gary Cruise banner

I have many wonderful Disney memories, picked up over the years during all those magical trips to the sunny south. But I’ve also racked up a few Disney regrets. This blog is about one of those regrets!

I never made it to Disney's first water-park, River Country . . .

1979 Postcard Book River Country

Everything I’ve read and everything I’ve heard about River Country has convinced me that it was exactly my kind of place! A modern six acre water park with dramatic and exciting water slides, all cleverly disguised as an old fashioned swimmin’ hole from the days of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer! Yup! My kind of place!

1984 River Country Flyer
1984 Brochure

1987 River Country Brochure outside
1987 Brochure

1987 River Country Brochure inside
1987 Brochure

Fortunately, Carol and Rob were there several times and she brought home some great memories as well as plenty of brochures, postcards, tickets and photographs to add some color to my descriptions of their memories. There was plenty of descriptive information in the Tickle Trunk!

1989 River Country Brochure Front
1989 Brochure

Some of these images are thumbnails, click on the image to see a larger version you can read more easily.

1989 River Country Brochure Inside
1989 Brochure

Here’s how that 1987 brochure described River Country: “Dive into the bygone days of the ol’ swimmin’ hole with River Country’s twisting water slides. Hop on your inner tube for a white-knuckle white water rapids ride. Relax in a sparkling 330,000-gallon swimming pool. Or let your guppies go off on their own at Kiddie Cove, a specially designed area for youngsters. A sandy beach and winding nature trail complete the idyllic scene.

Towel rentals and lockers are available as well as a snack bar with food, soft drinks, beer and wine. Or you can pack a picnic basket and enjoy a full day of fun in this unique corner of the world.”

River Country opened with fanfare June 20, 1976 when Susan Ford, President Gerald Ford's daughter, took the first trip down Whoop 'n Holler Hollow and splashed into Bay Cove, the larger of the park's two main bodies of water.

Birds-eye View Postcard

The park was located beside Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, along the south shore of Bay Lake. There was very little parking available for River Country; most visitors used Disney transportation to get there. Guests who arrived at the campground by boat simply walked a short distance to the River Country entrance. Those arriving by bus transferred to a campground tram or bus and rode to The Settlement area before walking a few hundred yards to River Country.

River Country Water Wagon

River Country cannon

River Country Map

Bay Cove was the main “swimmin' hole at River Country. It had a sand bottom and was filled with filtered water drawn from Bay Lake. This very natural looking man-made lagoon was separated from the lake by a large inflated dam which kept the water level in the lagoon about six inches higher than the adjacent lake. The filtration system drew water from the lake, filtered it and sent it to the various slides throughout the attraction at a rate of 8,500 gallons per minute. Surplus water spilled out over the top of the dam and returned to Bay Lake.

Bay Cove

At one side of Bay Cove were the two large water slides, Whoop 'n Holler Hollow and White Water Rapids, and opposite was the main beach covered with white sand, beach chairs and umbrellas. The lagoon tapered in depth, from the sandy shore at the beach it grew deeper as you approached the slides. The slides dropped adventurous guests into six feet of water and there was a bit of a distance to swim before they were able to touch bottom. This area was for experienced swimmers only!

River Country postcard

Whoop 'n Holler Hollow was the most exciting of the slides! There were two fibreglass body slides, one 160 feet and the other 260 feet. Riders careened and sloshed through plenty of twists, bends and tight hairpin turns before plunging into the lagoon.

Carol rides the slide
Carol

Rob
Rob

Rob.jpg
Rob

At White Water Rapids riders rode an inner tube as they bobbed past man-made rocks and through Raft Rider Ridge, next to Whoop 'n Holler Hollow, before entering the high-speed chute and splashing down into the lagoon. The water slides featured a lot of man-made rock, similar to that seen at Big Thunder Mountain and other places throughout Walt Disney World. Most riders floated around on the tubes for a few minutes before trekking up the queue to ride again!

White Water Rapids

Rob at White Water Rapids
Rob

In the middle of the lagoon was a small platform which had two water activities. At the Boom Swing guests could dangle from a wooden ship's boom, swing out over the bay and drop into the water. There was also a Cable Ride, similar to a “zip line”, where the daring could grab a handle, slide down the cable and let go to enjoy a cooling plunge into the water! Nearby, in the water, was a Tire Swing. Swimmers could climb up onto a raft-like dock and board a tire-swing. It took practised skill to swing back and forth and then time your release to achieve a graceful dive!

Tire Swing postcard

Bay Cove was bounded by two bridges which gave easy access to the slides. Bay Bridge was located near the inflated dam on the Bay Lake side. A “tipsy” floating Barrel Bridge, similar to the one at Tom Sawyer Island, separated Bay Cove from Kiddie Cove where children could enjoy a shallow beach and four small slides.

Kiddie Cove postcard

The oversized heated pool was known as Upstream Plunge. Half of the pool was cordoned off for swimmers while the other was set aside for those who risked life and limb riding down Slippery Slide Falls. The side-by-side slides, along a sculpted concrete rock face, ended with a seven foot drop into the pool! No other Disney water slides have ever featured this sort of drop! Yeehaw!

River Country Press Photo

Slippery Slide Falls

Slippery Slide Falls
Rob - ready to plunge!

Indian Springs was the first Disney splash pad for the kiddies, an area where they could run, splash and squirt each other. What could be more fun?

Splash Pad postcard

There was even an elevated boardwalk across the cypress swamp; sunken trees and wildlife were abundant all along the Cypress Point Nature Trail.

Goofy was the official mascot at the park and made frequent appearances. He sometimes arrived by boat, other times on horseback and always enjoyed a soothing and cooling plunge down one of the slides. In the late 90’s every day was the 4th of July as Goofy and a number of other characters including Chip, Dale, Minnie and Pluto took part in River Country’s daily All-American Water Party.

Rob has fond memories of several visits to River Country about three decades ago, “It was a great spot for a kid,” he told me, “there was just so much to do! It was the first place I experienced water slides and I really enjoyed each one of them, but even better were the other water activities. The boom swing and the cable ride were terrific. I liked to ride the cable all the way to the end. When it jarred to a stop I could do a full back flip and land in a perfect dive. I used to float around the tire swing and watch as folks let go at the wrong time and did some nasty belly flops!”

Rob is a nature lover, so I asked if he liked the Cypress Point Nature Trail. “Oh yeah,” he said, “I never missed it. There were plenty of birds along the shore, small deer roaming freely and a big alligator in a fenced in area.”

Tickets

Rob went on, “As a kid I saw River Country as a great place to have fun, but I didn’t really appreciate the way it was built. Now, when I look back after more than thirty years I can see the nostalgia they built into the place. All of that new and modern stuff was made to look old and rustic . . . and the things I enjoyed most were so simple, dropping off an old wooden spar into the water or sliding down a wire and flipping into the pond. It reinforces the notion that newer isn’t always better!”

Carol enjoyed it there too. Yes, she rode the slides, but she liked the heated pool much better than that chilly lagoon! Carol and her friend Judy scurried to commandeer their favourite table and umbrella so they could relax and enjoy some “down time” basking in the sun while the kids, Rob and Jenn, romped and played.

Their favourite table

Carol was always near the water when she grew up; boating and swimming were a regular part of her family life so River Country was a natural for her. The rustic charm the Imagineers created on the shore of Bay Lake reminded her of her Canadian home on the shore of Buck Lake. She also had one unusual memory from River Country. It was the first place any of them ever encountered Chicken Tenders; they were served with a tasty red sauce and were a huge hit!

Sometimes there were three generations represented, when Carol’s mother Sybil joined in the fun. There was something there for everyone!

Beach postcard

The beach

Here’s a funny little incident that happened while I was writing this blog. Rob was visiting Carol and I and he had just read a draft of this article. We were discussing it over dinner when I mentioned that during my online research I saw pictures of a River Country licence plate and a River Country beach towel. Carol quietly stood, went down the hall to the linen closet and in seconds came back with this towel.

River Country towel

That woman has everything!

So what happened to River Country? Why did it close?

There were a number of factors. First, both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon had opened, in 1989 and 1995, and drew some guests away from the old swimmin' hole! Attendance was down, but there was another serious issue as well. It affected all bodies of water in Florida. A nasty little amoeba prevalent in Florida water was found to attack the nervous system and brain. It had already caused Disney to ban swimming at all of the other beaches around Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon.

River Country closed September 1, 2001, at the end of the warm-weather season, as it did every year. Everyone expected that it would reopen in spring of 2002 . . . then came the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Attendance at Walt Disney World plummeted and management took drastic actions to control costs as their revenue plunged. River Country didn't re-open in the spring of 2002 and on April 11, 2002, the Orlando Sentinel reported “Disney World spokesman Bill Warren said that River Country could be reopened if ‘there’s enough guest demand.’”

Finally on January 20th 2005 came the expected announcement, River Country would not be reopening. The closure was permanent!

The only other Disney park ever to close was Discovery Island in April 1999; River Country joined it in 2001 but it didn’t become “officially closed” until 2005.

The park now lies in ruin; you can still peek through the fence in some spots and see the crumbling slides that used to drop riders into Upstream Plunge. The walkway at Cypress Point Nature Trail is still visible if you ride the boat from Fort Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom, but it’s rotting away and slowly falling into Bay Lake!

Dang! If time machines are invented and I get the chance for a “do-over”, a visit to River Country will be very high on my list!

October 26, 2014

Disney Vanity Plates

Gary Cruise banner

About ten years ago I thought it might be a good idea to buy my favorite Disney fan, my wife Carol, a customized license plate for her car. Now, what should the plate say? Yes, of course it had to be Disney . . . but what exactly should it say?

If you are a married man you will understand that this is not the type of decision I am authorized to make. There had to be some consultation! We talked about it and she thought it was a great idea. We tossed around a number of possibilities . . . and finally settled on the one pictured below.

LVDISNEY

It is simple, and conveys our love of all things Disney! Most people are quick to interpret “Love Disney” which is exactly what we intended. A few have guessed “Live Disney” and that’s good too, we do a lot of living Disney!

One friend saw the plate and said, “Oh look Carol, two of your favorite places – Las Vegas and Disney!” Yes Lidia, that’s a good answer too . . . Las Vegas is our second favorite spot; we were married there!

Since picking up Carol’s special plate we have noticed plenty of similar Disney themed tags. Disney characters are well represented with a heavy concentration of “Grumpy” and “Goofy”. Often when we attend a Disney fan event I will take my camera and snap a few shots in the parking lot. Some of the ones I’ve found have been very inventive.

10KRBEL

Terry told us that her family, when they first saw this plate, thought she may have taken up long distance running and was a “10K Rebel” but she assured them it meant “Tinker Bell” Of course, any Disney fan would have known that!

Others use their license tags to describe their favorite ride or attraction.

999HPHNT

There are many ways to say Disney Magic!

DSNEMGC

DZNEMAGK

Here’s a proud Disney Vacation Club owner!

DVC MBR

Is this Steve Barrett’s plate? I thought he lived in Florida, not Ohio!

HIDN MKY

His and hers plates from Pennsylvania!

MICKEY 9

MINNIE 9

Here’s a wistful comment from someone who is longing to be elsewhere!

O2BN WDW

Tinker Bell has bestowed good fortune on this family from the Granite State!

PXIDSTD

How else can you tell people that you “Love Disney”? Here are a few options!

WDW LVR

WDW4ME

WDWFANS

DIZNYFRK

Here’s a collage of all those wonderful plates shown above!

Vanity Plate Collage

Aren’t they great?

I’ll end this blog with a few questions:

1. If you have a Disney vanity plate or have seen a good one, what does it say?

2. If you were going to get a Disney vanity plate, what would it say?

3. Here in Ontario we can use any combination up to eight letters and numbers. If Carol were going to surprise me with a vanity plate for the motor home (hint, hint) what should it say?

October 20, 2014

Gluten Free Dining at Walt Disney World

Hi All Ears Readers. My name is Christy Fish and I am a Disney Vacation Club Member, Disney Enthusiast, and avid All Ears Reader. I also happen to have Celiac disease and need to eat gluten free. Below please find my latest information from my last trip my husband Blake and I took to Walt Disney World. Happy Reading!

2014 Gluten Free Dining at Walt Disney World
(on the dining plan)

*Standard Dining Plan we chose includes: 1 counter service meal (Entrée, drink, dessert), 1 table service meal or buffet (entrée, drink, dessert), and 1 snack.

*All of the table service restaurants we have dined at have had the Ener-G Tapioca rolls. Feel free to request them to be served warm and toasted, as they taste much better this way.

*Please take note that if your gluten sensitivity is severe, you may need to be much more careful and ask locations to clean off their grills, and consume only fried items in a dedicated GF fryer. Please discuss your gluten free concerns in depth with any manager or chef at each location you dine.

Animal Kingdom

Counter Service: Flame Tree Barbeque (Discovery Island)

I ordered the Half Rotisserie Chicken, but substituted fries instead of the baked beans/coleslaw combo out of personal preference. Blake ordered the ½ slab of St. Louis Ribs served with baked beans and coleslaw. Both items were GF. This is my favorite counter service location any where in WDW. My husband stated his ribs were amazing, tender, meaty, and perfectly seasoned. The chicken was tender, had a wonderful dry rub that was flavorful but not spicy. The fries were excellent and fresh out of the fryer. I was assured this location has a dedicated GF fryer. For dessert, they had a few selections of pre-packaged GF brownies and cookies. I chose the Enjoy Life pack of Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies. This location had a manager out to take my order right away and made all the food fresh.

Table Service: Tusker House (Africa)

What a wonderful buffet experience. I stayed away from buffets since being diagnosed with Celiac disease, but this restaurant had me singing a happy tune. The chef came over within 15 minutes, as they were extremely busy during this breakfast buffet. I informed him that I love Mickey waffles and was wondering if he could make them gluten free. He said of course and then walked with me to the buffet to show me everything I could have. I could eat a lot of buffet items. Eggs, sweet potato hash (so delicious), fruit, cheese, bacon, sausage, ham, pork tenderloin, and the oven roasted potatoes to name a few. After we sat back down from the buffet, he brought me a plate of mickey waffles and a GF muffin. The food was excellent and service very accommodating.

gluten-free-waffles.jpg

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Epcot

Counter Service: Sunshine Seasons at The Land (Future World)

This is my favorite counter service location at this park. There are many different food bays to choose from. I chose the Pork Chop with BBQ Chutney and Mashed potatoes with no gravy. It was a hearty and thick pork chop that was tender and not dry. The BBQ Chutney is also sweet, tangy and delicious. Mashed potatoes were thick and creamy as always.

gluten-free-tland-pork-chop.jpg


The dessert here for me was a treat: Crème Brulee from the baked goods section.

gluten-free-land-creme-brulee.jpg

Table Service: Coral Reef (Living Seas-Future World)

I ordered the Grilled NY Strip Steak served with Roasted Potatoes, Mushrooms, Spinach, and Red Wine Sauce. I ordered sans Mushrooms out of personal preference. The Steak here was cooked medium as I requested and it was a good meal. The steak at Le Cellier is far superior in quality and flavor in my opinion. The service at Coral Reef and atmosphere was well done. The dessert I ordered was The Chocolate Wave with fresh Raspberries and Raspberry Gelato. I order this every time I eat here. This dessert is flourless and always GF. It is decadent, rich, and heaven on a plate. I apologize for no pictures on this one as I think I may have been too busy devouring it.

Table Service: La Hacienda de San Angel (Mexico-World Showcase)

I give this restaurant’s food, décor, and atmosphere a 10 out of 10. I ordered the Pollo al Pastor which is Achiote marinated chicken served with roasted vegetables, beans and pineapple relish; served fresh with homemade corn tortillas and rice. It was wonderful. One of my new favorite places. The food was fresh and light. The marinade on the chicken was sweet, and the pineapple relish was delicious. The Mexican rice flavored with tomatoes was fantastic. It felt so nice to have a meal that did not feel really heavy. For dessert I chose the Nieves or traditional Mexican sorbets. I had mango and raspberry. It was the best sorbet I have ever had. Two very large scoops with chunks of fresh fruit. This is a meal I will continue to come back for every year at WDW. Oh, and did I mention if you wait a little longer for a table by the window, you can watch Illuminations from this restaurants windows. It sits right on the water.

Hollywood Studios:

Counter Service: Rosie’s All American Café (Sunset Blvd)

I ordered the 1/3 lb. Angus Cheeseburger with fries on a GF bun. It took a very long time for a manager to come to take our order at this location. The bun was not very good, but the fries and burger itself were nicely done. The normal run of the mill burger and fries. For Dessert: Enjoy Life Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Table Service: Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano (near Muppet Vision)

Mama Melrose’s is my favorite table service restaurant at Hollywood Studios because I usually have a hard time eating GF at Italian locations. Not here at all. We dine here every trip. The head chef Frank whom my husband and I have seen every year since our honeymoon is absolutely fantastic. The first time we dined here I asked him what I could have that was GF and he responded by saying, “What would you like, I can make you anything on the menu Gluten Free.” For people with Celiac disease that is one of the most amazing things to hear at any restaurant.

This trip I ordered the Carne D' Italia Flatbread with pepperoni, house-made sausage, pancetta, and spicy marinara sauce on a GF crust. This crust was delicious. It was on the flat bread side, but still had a doughy texture to it. The sauce, cheese, and toppings all tasted very fresh.

gluten-free-mama-melrose-pizza.jpg

My husband ordered the Penne alla Vodka with GF rice pasta and chicken. I tried it and it was delicious.

gluten-free-mama-melrose-penne-alla-vodka.jpg


Dessert: Flourless chocolate fudge cake made on premises, which the server told me, is not on the menu, but they always offer it to GF patrons. This dessert is dense, fudgy, and outstanding.

gluten-free-mama-melrose-flourless-chocolate-cake.jpg


Other years I have also ordered the following dishes GF and all were outstanding: Oven-baked Chicken alla Parmigiana with marinara sauce topped with melted mozzarella (no breading) with GF pasta, and the Charred Strip Steak with GF five-cheese baked macaroni.

This restaurant has also done several magical things for us in the past as we often celebrate our anniversary here. We have received fast passes, champagne toasts, and gluten free cheesy garlic bread. This was not all in one experience, but little bits over the 4 years we have dined here. They really know how to bring out the Disney Magic at this location.

Magic Kingdom:

Counter Service: Be Our Guest (Fantasyland) Lunch Only

We were unable to secure reservations for dinner at Be Our Guest, but did not want to miss out on seeing it this trip, as it was not open during our last trip. We stopped by the restaurant the day before and asked a cast member what time we should arrive. She kindly informed us that lunch starts at 10:30am and we should arrive 30 minutes prior to get in line as it gets very long quickly. We arrived in the line at 10am and were the 4th party in line. Doors opened promptly at 10:30. What a beautiful restaurant. It is exactly like stepping into the movie. I was in awe.

The way to order was through kiosk, which I like. And they had an allergy option. It was so nice to not have to wait for a manager to come over to take my order. They serve your food on an adorable cart right to your table with real silver ware. I ordered the Carved Turkey Sandwich served on a GF bun with Dijon mayonnaise and Pomme Frites.

gluten-free-bog-carved-turkey.jpg


For dessert, a GF Lemon-raspberry cream puff . The dessert was very good here. Especially because it is difficult to make a GF cream puff.

gluten-free-bog-lemon-raspberry-cream-puff.jpg


The food, sadly it was not good at all. The fries were cold and limp, and the sandwich was made on the GF bread. The greens on the sandwich looked old and rotten, and the turkey was not very good quality. I am unsure why the food didn’t taste fresh since we were some of the first lunch guests of the day. I feel this restaurant is definitely worth going to just see it once. I have never had dinner there, so we will be trying that our next trip to see if table service has better quality food.

Counter Service: Columbia Harbor House (Liberty Square)

Service here is always impeccable and very accommodating. I ordered the GF Chicken Tenders and Fries. These are the best GF chicken tenders I have had on Disney property. They also have a dedicated GF fryer. Dessert: OMG GF Brownie. It was huge, fudgy, and excellent for a pre-packaged dessert.


Counter Service Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café (Tomorrowland)

Service is also fantastic and very accommodating here as well. I ordered the 1/2 Rotisserie Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and a seasonal vegetable and Blake ordered the BBQ Pork Sandwich with a GF bun with fries. Both were delicious. Fries were made fresh, as was the rest of the food equally hot and tasty. Dessert was an OMG GF Brownie and Enjoy Life Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Downtown Disney:

Table Service: Raglan Road

Raglan Road is my favorite Downtown Disney table service location because the entertainment is wonderful and the food is delicious. The service was outstanding and musicians/dancers fantastic. We left very full. I ordered the Mammy's Roast Chicken which is a lemon thyme roasted half chicken with mashed potatoes. It was wonderful and fresh as always.

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My husband ordered Keen Eye for the Shepherds Pie. Both dishes were GF. My husband stated the meat in the Shepherd’s Pie was tender and flavorful. He stated it tasted fresh and was very filling.

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For Dessert: Strawberry & Apple Crumble which was fresh strawberries and apples in a tart with berry compote and vanilla bean ice cream. This dessert is not naturally GF; but the server informed us they could make special GF ones! This was a perfect combination of tart and sweet. Most definitely one of my very favorite desserts at Disney.

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Port Orleans French Quarter Resort:

Quick Service: Sassagoula Float Works

We came here specifically for the GF beignets. I have never had any beignets and was afraid I never would with Celiac disease. We asked to speak with the chef. He was so nice and from Paris. I have never had real beignets but my husband has and he said the GF ones were delicious and very close to tasting like real beignets.

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Below you will find a list of other places we have eaten on some of our past trips to WDW.


Animal Kingdom:

Table Service: Rainforest Café (Entrance to Park)

Very accommodating. Did not have GF bread or rolls at the time we went, or dessert other than ice cream. Chef came out and spoke with me directly. I was able to easily order the rotisserie chicken.

Counter Service: Pizzafari (Discovery Island)

Amy’s Rice Crust GF pizza. I am not a fan of this brand, but if you like Amy’s you will love this location.

Epcot:

Table Service: Le Chefs De France (France, World Showcase)

Accommodating. I was able to order rotisserie chicken, but no dessert available other than sorbet.

Table Service: Marrakesh (Morocco, World Showcase)

I was able to order chicken, and any kebabs. I was unable to have rice, as it was not GF here. Sorbet was the only option for dessert.

Table Service: Le Cellier (Canada, World Showcase)

This restaurant has become a signature dining experience and now requires two table service credits per person per meal. This restaurant carries my favorite steak on Disney property. I usually order the filet mignon with cream cheese mashed potatoes and the GF maple crème brulee for dessert. The steak is always cooked perfectly to order, the cream cheese mashed potatoes are to die for, and the maple crème brulee is the best I have had anywhere. This restaurant truly sets itself above and beyond all standards .The service has always been spectacular and chefs extremely accommodating.


Counter Service: La Cantina de San Angel (Mexico, World Showcase)

I was able to order the nachos and tacos de pollo as they are made with corn tortillas. Chips are corn as well, but fried in a fryer with non-GF items. Service was a little tough, and food was average.

Counter Service: Electric Umbrella (Future World)

I was able to order the 1/3 lb. Bacon Cheeseburger on a GF bun with fries. The service was good, and the food average. Nothing outstanding.

Hollywood Studios

Counter Service: Backlot Express (near Star Tours)

I have ordered the GF chicken tenders and fries multiple times at this location. It is very crowded and often takes a bit of time for a manager to come over and take our order. Once that is done, I must say the GF chicken tenders and fries have always been delicious and fresh at this location.

Magic Kingdom

Table Service: Tony’s Town Square (Main Street)

We have only eaten here once because although the service was great, the food was a bit bland and lack luster for my taste. I ordered the GF pasta with marinara sauce. This is a good solid choice for anyone wanting good service and the adorable Lady and Tramp décor.

Counter Service: Pecos Bill Café: (Frontierland)

I ordered a cheeseburger on a GF bun and fries. It was fresh and good. The fixins bar here has a wide variety.

Snacks: Aloha Isle (Adventureland)

I have to admit one of my favorite Disney treats is a vanilla Dole Whip root beer float. I also love all the other flavors of Dole Whip. They are not only GF, but dairy free as well.


Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House

Counter Service: The Mara

I ordered the rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes. It was excellent. The chef came out and informed me that he could make almost anything on the menu GF. He even told me he could prepare GF zebra domes, which is Animal Kingdom Lodge’s infamous dessert. I also noticed in the grab and go case that they had Babycakes GF desserts pre-packaged.


Boardwalk Resort and Villas

Counter Service: Boardwalk Bakery

I have ordered the smoked turkey sandwich on GF bread, fruit cup, chips, and they often have some sort of pre-packaged cupcake. Main meal good at this location, GF cupcake not so much.

Table Service: Big River Grille and Brewing Works

Food here is good, but not great. Service is always excellent. I usually order the NY strip steak. I have been unable to get dessert here that is GF.

Table Service: ESPN Club

Service was excellent. I ordered a burger on a GF bun with fries. Dessert option was gelato only.

Contemporary Resort

Table Service: California Grill

We have only eaten here once and it was on our honeymoon. The manager and waiter knew the occasion. Service from the manager who found us a wonderful seat by the window was impeccable. Our waiter was okay. View and fireworks amazing. The GF bread was warm. I ordered the oak fired filet of beef with roasted potatoes. It was prepared nicely, but lacked much flavoring. The potatoes were a bit dry and bland. When I asked the server about dessert, he stated they had a pre-packaged GF brownie. He did not offer to do anything special with it. I asked if they were able to make me a brownie sundae with ice cream and hot fudge using the pre-packaged dessert. He said yes and put the order in. This is a signature dining experience, which requires two table service credits. I was very surprised they did not have a GF dessert that was not pre packaged. The waiter came back with the brownie sundae, which was still mostly frozen in the middle. The ice cream was good, but there was no hot fudge, just cold chocolate sauce. This may have just been an off day for this restaurant as I have read that many people have had wonderful experiences here. I plan to try it again on our next trip.

Downtown Disney

Rainforest Café and T-Rex

Both are very accommodating, but no GF bread or buns at current time we dined. Ice Cream Sundaes were the GF dessert option.


Bongos Cuban Café

Wonderful service, food, and atmosphere. We often go for a late dinner on a weekend night when they have a live salsa band. I have ordered the Arroz con Pollo and the Pollo Asado. My husband usually gets the Churrasco a lo Cubano (Cuban style Skirt Steak). GF dessert option was flan at the time. I am not sure if they still carry it.

October 17, 2014

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - October 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!

This month, James writes:

Here's the answer key to the September Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler Word Search:

http://allears.net/ae/mb091514-key.pdf

There were 55 responses to the word search puzzle on Walt Disney Resorts. The first 10 unused letters in the puzzle were ZANJBWSIYO.

The winner of a Genie pin was Sharon J. of Grove City, OH. Thanks for playing!

This month we are going to continue with another word search puzzle, but this time the subject will be different bodies of water at Walt Disney World.

Water is an integral part of Walt Disney World and especially Central Florida. The first thing that Disney did to the property in Florida, even before building roads, was to construct about 43 miles of canals and 22 miles of levees to handle all of the water! Of all the lakes and rivers at WDW, the only natural body of water was Bay Lake, the rest were man-made.

Here's the link to the new word search puzzle:

http://allears.net/ae/mb101614.pdf

If you'd like to be entered for a chance to win a collectible Disney pin, there’s no need to send me the completed puzzle; just list the first 10 unused letters, starting with the first row of the puzzle. Send your resulting answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Any feedback on this Word Search format would be appreciated, too!

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on November 14, 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-November.

Enjoy and good luck!

As always, we 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.

October 12, 2014

From The Tickle Trunk - WDW News November 1982

Gary Cruise banner

Let's dip into the Tickle Trunk and have a look at the Walt Disney World News from November 1982. That was an exciting time in Disney history; EPCOT had just opened a month prior.

A few months ago, when we looked at the October 1982 copy, my blog focused primarily on EPCOT; I purposely ignored almost everything else in the news since most was repeated in the November edition.

So let's see what else was going on in Disney history 32 years ago!

November 1982 Front Page
(Click on the picture for a larger view of the image)

The lead article on page 1 still spotlighted all those new sights, attractions and experiences at EPCOT but let’s take a closer look at that “Special Entertainment at Magic Kingdom”

November 1982 Magic Kingdom Entertainment

When you click on the image to zoom in for a close-up you only see the text from page 1, so I'll quote the entire article . . . here’s what it said!

MAGIC KINGDOM — Fanciful parades, rollicking revues, and the "oom-pa-pa" of merry bands fill every nook and cranny of the Magic Kingdom. No matter where you are, chances are there's one of a dozen different groups who perform every day just a step away.

On Main Street, U.S.A., where shops, attractions, and restaurants reflect turn-of-the-century, Victorian America, you can hear a barbershop quartet harmonizing "Dai-sy, Dai-sy, give me your answer true!" While further down the avenue a rinky-tink piano player tickles the ivories of a snow-white upright at the Refreshment Corner.

Just beyond the whispering palms, the exotic, mysterious world of Adventure-land beckons. The rousing sound of an authentic steel drum band fills the open-air bazaars and follows explorers as they penetrate the wilderness on the "Jungle Cruise," climb high into the sky on the "Swiss Family Treehouse," and wander Caribbean Plaza.

As guests stroll the pioneer streets of Frontierland toward Liberty Square, they just might catch the banjo-pickin' and fiddlin' of a country group playing up a storm along the Rivers of America.

From Frontierland and the tunes of yesteryear to Tomorrowland's hits of the future, stop by the Tomorrowland Terrace where the rock band Tabasco spices up the menu with the space-age sounds of the Eighties. For something more down to Earth, be sure not to miss the very talented Kids of the Kingdom at the Tomorrowland Stage. In a 30-minute musical salute, they bring each land of the Magic Kingdom to life while letting you know that "Walt Disney World Is Your World." The show also features some of your favorite Disney characters — in some rather "out of character" roles.

Of course, you'll find Disney characters throughout the Magic Kingdom. In front of Cinderella Castle, they'll be singing and dancing their way into your hearts with medleys from the "Best of Disney." At the Fantasy Faire Stage in Fantasyland, Mickey, Goofy, Alice in Wonderland, and more appear several times each day in the music and comedy revues of the "Fantasy Follies."

And the whole gang comes out for the exciting new Character Parade down Main Street, U.S.A. Each afternoon, along with marching bands and merrily whirling floats, Mickey Mouse and a host of Disney characters turn Main Street into the Fourth of July.

Plus, on November 26 and 27, the Magic Kingdom features extended hours along with the return of the sparkling Main Street Electrical Parade (9 and 11 p.m. nightly) and spectacular "Fantasy In The Sky" fireworks (10 p.m. nightly).
The Magic Kingdom is filled to the brim with fun, fantasy, and music. For an up-to-the-minute schedule of what's happening where, check at City Hall in Town Square as you begin your journey through "the happiest place on Earth."

Special Entertainment
November 26 and 27, the Magic Kingdom features extended hours that let you enjoy more of your favorite attractions longer — along with the sparkling Main Street Electrical Parade, 9 and 11 p.m. nightly and spectacular "Fantasy In The Sky" fireworks, 10 p.m. nightly

Special Event
Armed Forces Days
From November 1 through 30, members of the armed forces and their families receive special-value admission to the dazzling new Epcot Center and the warmth and wonder of the Magic Kingdom. With each Epcot Center ticket pur¬chased, a voucher will be issued entitling each person to one day's admission to the Magic Kingdom anytime up to three months after their Epcot Center visit for just $8 per person. And a special Armed Forces Days ticket for just $12 per person entitles you to one day's admission to the Magic Kingdom.”

My favourite parade was there – The Main Street Electrical Parade! I don’t recall that “spicy” rock band Tabasco, but I do remember the Kids of the Kingdom and their exciting musical revue. I wonder what those talented kids are doing today?

November 1982 Page 2

Page 2 describes a dazzling show at the Top of the World.

November 1982 Top of the World

The picture is captioned “Five exciting entertainers will take you on a musical tour through the show stoppers of “The American Musical Theatre”.

I remember this show from a visit in 1983; it was high-energy and very entertaining. This was my very first dinner show at Walt Disney World and I distinctly recall how impressed I was!

November 1982 Page 3
Page 3

Fort Wilderness had a lot to offer in 1982! River Country and Discovery Island were exciting destinations, but this article looked at the many other things to do at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.

Great Outdoors

Fort Wilderness is still one of Disney's hidden gems; most visitors to Walt Disney World have no idea the campground exists. Many of those who do know of the resort are not aware of all the activities available. There is even more to do now than there was 32 years ago. It really is a wonderful place; come on over and see for yourselves!

November 1982 The Village

The area we know as Downtown Disney (currently transforming into Disney Springs) was still known as “The Village” in 1982. It was a busy spot . . . click on the image to read what was going on!

Gosh . . . a $5.00 beverage minimum, what a quaint concept!

The Village was a very busy area in 1982. Many of the shops and restaurants have changed over the years, but the popular Festival Of The Masters is still presented each year in November. The festival draws hundreds of talented artists from around the world. It’s a cornucopia of sights, sounds and flavors!

From the very beginning EPCOT staffed the international pavilions around World Showcase with young people from the various countries represented there. Here's an article describing the benefits of having these young people represent their home countries.

November 1982 International Representatives


Disney talked about “a true family of man” and “a spirit of international fellowship” and their description is as accurate today as it was all those years ago. The young people working in every country around the lagoon are wonderful ambassadors for their nations!

November 1982 Page 4
Page 4

November 1982 Character Breakfasts

There were three different character breakfasts to choose from . . . Wow - only $5.50 for adults.

I really enjoy looking back at these old newsletters; they bring back some very fond memories of happy times. They also give me cause to reflect on how things have changed; look at those prices! A $5.00 beverage minimum and a character breakfast for $5.50. Today a single adult beverage costs more than $5.00 and the character breakfasts at most locations now cost about $30.00 for adults!

Of course, I also reflect on the many things that have not changed. Prices are higher, but the value is unchanged! The wholesome family atmosphere, the quality, the attention to detail, the “magic” which Walt Disney built into everything he did – it's all still there!

October 10, 2014

Yia Sou Kouzzina

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by David Abel
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger

It’s always a sad day when something comes to an end, so it almost seems poetic that Kouzzina by Cat Cora served its final meals on a dreary rainy evening. We were only slightly concerned about our dining experience… Would they be running out of food? Would the staff be annoyed they were losing their jobs?

All of our worries proved to be unfounded. We arrived right on time for our 6:25 p.m. dinner reservation. The cheerful hostesses greeted us and escorted us to a table on the far side of the open show kitchen. The half-empty dining room was abuzz with energy and excitement. Within 15 minutes, the dining room was full.

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Our server, Bruce, took our orders and brought us bread with olive oil for dipping and olives. He only poured one type of olive oil as they were out of the other. This was the only apparent item the restaurant was out of. We were even offered additional olives, so they apparently had an abundance of those.

I’d ordered the Pastitsio (Greek-style Lasagna) with a side of Sauteed Brussels Sprouts, and my partner ordered the Traditional Whole Fish. Both meals arrived in a reasonable amount of time. The server filleted the fish right at the table, and this was almost a show in itself. Everything was tasty, up to their normal standards. We passed on dessert because we were too full, in fact, I couldn’t even finish my meal.


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Although I’m sad to see this fine restaurant close, I’m glad that it went out on top, maintaining its standards of food quality and service to the very end. For those of you afraid you won’t see your favorite server(s) again, fear not. They’re being re-allocated for a few weeks and then will be brought back to Trattoria al Forno for its opening. And the new restaurant is even expected to retain a few of the popular dishes from Kouzzina’s menu!

So for now, we must say Yia Sao (or Good-bye) Kouzzina.

October 6, 2014

Remembering Body Wars

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Jim's Attic: Remembering Body Wars
By Jim Korkis

When Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced more information about the Avatar themed area coming to Disney Animal Kingdom, he stated that “Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee.” A Banshee is a predatory flying creature imagined by the film's director James Cameron to somewhat resemble a dragon that inhabits the mountainous region of Pandora.

Reportedly, this experience will be created using the same motion simulator technology used in the Star Tours attraction with some enhancements.

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My interest in this new attraction is tempered by the memory that while I could handle Star Tours (although other guests can't), I always had difficulty with the Body Wars attraction that utilized the exact same technology.

Both attractions used a simulator (Rediffusion ATLAS-Advanced Technology Leisure Application Simulator) that consists of a cabin supported by six servo actuators (“legs”). The actuators are powered hydraulically and driven automatically using electrical drive signals received from a free-standing motion-control cabinet.

The actuators provide "six degree of freedom movement" so the cabin can be moved in planes representing heave, surge and sway and in axes representing pitch, roll and yaw independently or in any combination.

In fact, the success of Star Tours in 1987 inspired the Imagineers to try developing an "inner space" attraction of a miniaturized submarine-like probe journeying through a patient's body just like in the film Fantastic Voyage (1966) for the "Wonders of Life" pavilion at Epcot in 1989.

The new attraction was called Body Wars most likely because Disney guests called Star Tours the Star Wars ride or just Star Wars.


BodyWarsNEW.jpg


The probe's captain, Jack Braddock (Tim Matheson from Animal House) set out on a fairly routine medical mission with a crew of civilian observers accompanying him. The submarine and crew were miniaturized by a "particle reducer" to the size of a single cell and beamed inside the human body to rendezvous with Dr. Cynthia Lair (Elizabeth Shue who starred in Disney's Adventures in Babysitting), an immunologist who also has been miniaturized to study the body's response to a splinter lodged beneath the skin. Unfortunately, the mission becomes a high-speed race against time when Dr. Lair is swept from the splinter site into the rush of the bloodstream.

Through the pounding chambers of the patient's heart and through the lungs' gale-force winds, the ship rode the body's current in an effort to rescue Dr. Lair. Even after she was safely on board, there are still problems when the ship loses power and heads toward the brain in search of emergency power and escape.

BodyWars1.jpg
The film was directed by Leonard "Mr. Spock" Nimoy who had recently finished directing Touchstone's Three Men and a Baby. With anatomical images produced by computer graphics and special effects film techniques, it was a remarkably realistic experience. "Even though Body Wars is the shortest film I've ever directed, it presented a new set of challenges," said Nimoy at the time. "We had to take into account that the film will be shown inside a moving theater -- the simulator. So, in order to intensify the sense of motion, we built a set that actually moves, and rocked it during filming to match the pitching and rolling of the simulator." Since the story of the attraction was that guests were in the bloodstream, the Imagineers programmed in movement to mimic the beat of a pulse. That additional movement may be the movement that unsettled countless guests like me who had survived a similar experience on Star Tours without any ill effects.

Some Walt Disney Imagineers felt that it was just the images of being inside a human body with all the yucky "blood and guts" that generated feelings of unease.

Whatever the reason, the experience proved that using the exact same motion control technology could result in drastically different physical experiences. So I cautiously, rather than joyously, anticipate the ability to ride a Banshee.

Did any of the readers of this blog have a similar experience where Body Wars was just too rough an experience?

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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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