Page 1 of 3

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

gluten-free-tusker-house.jpg

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.

gluten-free-raglan-road-roast-chicken.jpg


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.

gluten-free-raglan-road-shepards-pie.jpg

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.

gluten-free-raglan-road-strawberry-apple-crumble.jpg


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.

gluten-free-sassagula-beignets.jpg

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

kouzzina-closing-1.jpg

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.

kouzzina-closing-2.jpg

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.


kouzzina-closing-4.jpg


kouzzina-closing-5.jpg


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

wonders-of-life-2001.jpg


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.

starwarsposter.jpg

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?

BodyWars3.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":


October 5, 2014

EPCOT Trade Celebration 2014

Carol Cruise banner

When I last wrote it was after the annual EPCOT Trade Celebration of 2013, Disney had announced the theme of the 2014 event but not the dates. Well the dates were announced earlier this year and registration opened April 22, 2014. The dates were September 5th, 6th and 7th and the event was described by Disney as:
"Make an entrance when you arrive in style at our award-worthy Imagination Gala – A Magic Carpet event! Join us as we honor our ‘bests’ in Disney films, storytelling, characters and attractions with an Imagination Award, represented by none other than a Golden Figment."

Imagination Gala Logo

The usual pre-event activities occurred; I sat at my computer on registration day, waiting for the clock to strike 1:00 p.m. E.S.T. when the link to the registration form opened on the site. I signed up for all the event options. The breakfast options sell out so you have to be quick. This is what was available:

Event Packages
(Click on the image for a clearer view)

Tuesday September 2nd
My adventure began very early as I headed off to my 10th EPCOT Pin Event - 3 o'clock - in the dark early. I had a 7:30 a.m. flight out of Syracuse which was great since it got me into Orlando by 10:00 a.m. and I had a whole day to play with my friends from Canada who had arrived earlier, on the weekend. Everything went smoothly, I picked up my rental car and texted my “roomie” Carrie that I had landed. Gabe drove her over to the All Star Movie Resort to meet me just as I finished checking us in.

All Star Movies lobby

We dropped our stuff off in the room then went to the food court for a quick bite and checked out the store. After that we hopped in the car and headed over to the Magic Kingdom, it was about 2:00 p.m. and we wanted to see the 3 o'clock parade.

Monorail sign

We met up with Susan and Allison in front of the Trading Post in Frontierland and had a great view; the only problem was the heat. Oh my goodness is was hot!

Daisy & Donald

Parade Dragon

After the parade we all went to the Sunshine Tree Terrace for a Citrus Swirl, it was so refreshing and gave us the strength to move on. Carrie and I wanted to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train so we got in the line and waited about an hour for the ride. It is very cute but I wouldn't wait an hour for it again. We then made our way down Main Street and over to Downtown Disney where we had dinner at Earl of Sandwich.

Earl of Sandwich

A quick trip to the Character Outlet and Publix finished off the evening.

Wednesday September 3rd
I got up and strolled over to the food court to get coffee for Carrie and myself. After our coffee we packed up and loaded the car and drove over to the Beach Club Villas to check in for the rest of the week. It was another very hot day and we had decided to spend it enjoying the pool and relaxing in preparation for the marathon of trading that would start the next day.

Our room was ready so we were able to unpack and settle in; once that was accomplished we headed to the pool, stopping at Beaches & Cream for lunch first.

Beaches & Cream

After a great lunch we wandered around the pool scouting out a good spot to set up for the rest of the afternoon. We swam and even went down the water slide; it was great fun and a wonderful relaxing afternoon.

Beach Club pool

We had dinner plans, so after getting cleaned up we started making our way to Olivia's at Old Key West, but first I had to make a quick stop at the Meadows Trading Post in Fort Wilderness to pick up a couple of new Fort pins that you could only get there. We met our friends by 6:00 p.m. and had the best dinner and an enjoyable time talking and laughing with Susan, Allison, Gabe, Sandy, Jenn, Ann, Mike and Carrie.

So much fun that I forgot to take a picture of our group. After dinner we went back to Board Walk Villas, had a quick swim and got ready for the next day.

Thursday September 4th
The day started very early, we had to be at Hollywood Studios for 8:30 a.m. to meet up with the breakfast club. This was the 4th Annual Artist Breakfast that is organized by Janis Lavender and John Rick from Central Jersey Disney Pin Trading. It is not a Disney event but the guests of honor are design artists from the Disney Design Group. I have attended this breakfast every year and I have to say that this was the best one yet.

The breakfast gang

CJDPT Breakfast Group

We all met just outside the gates, then a cast member came and escorted us into and through the park to our special venue. This year the breakfast was held in the Backstage Prop Shop. It was so interesting, sitting there among the props and remembering where we had seen them in use years ago.

The Prop Shop

The Prop Shop

The food was very good and there was lots of it, more than we could eat. The artists entertained us with stories of their experiences and answered questions from all of us. All too soon it was time to move on.

Organizers & Pin_Artists
The organizers and artists: Left to right - Ron Cohee, David & Janis Lavender, Derek Lesinski, Alex Maher, Quynh Kimbell, Sheila & John Rick


Carrie and I decided to spend a little time at the Studios before going to registration.

Oaken's Frozen Funland

We wandered through Oaken's Frozen Funland and Trading Post, rode Toy Story Midway Mania, and saw the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.

Anna & Elsa

After that we made a quick stop in the Art of Animation store where I had a little visit with Ink and Paint artist David Rippberger and ended up buying another cel.

Event Itinerary
(click on the agenda)

The early registration for the event was held at Coronado Springs and we were receiving texts that the line to pick up your merchandise was up to 2 hours, so we were in no hurry to get there. The registration opened at 10:00 a.m. and would stay open until 7:00 p.m. We arrived around 2:00 p.m. and the line wasn't too bad; we only waited about and hour to get our merchandise.

Welcome Gifts
These are the welcome gifts I received when I registered. The Figment vinylmation is a Limited Edition and the pin is a Limited Edition of 1100.


Aimee & her buttons
This is Aimee with the buttons she made for our group, depicting the "Supporting Actors" from Disney animated films.


Everyone was disappointed this year about the mystery boxes not arriving on time. Apparently there was a mix up with the shipping instructions and they did not get to the event on time. The Mystery Boxes are always a fun part of the trading process. Each box contains 2 pins; one pin is a limited release and the other pin may be a mystery chaser, Limited Edition 250. When everyone has opened their boxes the trading begins and you try to complete the set.

The Trading Room

Half of the conference room was set up with tables for trading and there were lots of traders there, with both pins and vinylmations. This year the trading room was only open to registered guests, no public hours, and it closed at 7 p.m., earlier than previous years. For me, I liked the change. After the trading our group headed to Downtown Disney for a tasty dinner at Earl of Sandwich.

Friday September 5th
We hit the ground running. It was a quick walk to the International Gateway and our breakfast started at 8:00 a.m. We thought that if we got to the line around 7:30 a.m. all would be good. No so; as we came down the hill to the entrance people were lined up and not moving. There was no security and the cast members were not letting anybody in. I would say there were about 250 very unhappy people in this line.

The line didn't move

Eventually security and the sniffer dog showed up and they started letting us enter the park.

Security dog

Once through the security and ticket area we headed towards World Show Place where the event is always held. We expected to be able to get in a single line that would take us through the gates and on to breakfast, instead we hit a mob, trying to get by 4 cast members with clipboards manually ticking off our names.

Another line

Tricia & Eric from Cleveland
I ran into a couple I had met the previous year, Trish & Eric, from Ohio. They had enjoyed themselves so much last year that they brought some friends along to join in the fun.


Early morning mob

Whatever happened to technology? Why couldn't we just show the credentials that we had to wear?

Pin Event Credentials

Eventually we got into the venue and they announced that they would extend the breakfast and event by 15 minutes to compensate for the disorder that we had endured.

Breakfast Gift Pin
Everyone at the breakfast received this special pin, a Limited Edition of 500.


The breakfast was okay, but the main benefit of going to the breakfast is to get an early start at the trade boards. We all do this to get the special “event pins” that you can only find on the boards – they are not sold anywhere.

Board Pins
These are the six special "event pins". Each one is a Limited Edition of 1000.


We always spend a lot of time standing in lines! Once you have all the special pins, there were six this year, then you can concentrate on looking for pins that fit into your collection. There were plenty of great pins this year, many Artist Proofs and Pre-productions pins to be found.

After the special breakfast ended at 9:45 a.m. the doors opened to the remainder of the registered guests. The lines grew longer and the average wait to get to the boards was 2 hours.

Some of the decor - Figment

More decor

More decor - Mickey

A pin trading board

We left the event at 6:00 p.m. and wandered back to Beach Club Villas. We dropped our stuff off and decided that since it was raining and miserable out we would just go over to Sweet Tomatoes for some dinner and call it an early night.

Saturday September 6th
Saturday was much like Friday; the only difference was that the event didn't start until 9:30 a.m. so we got to sleep in a bit.

Saturday morning line
The line prior to opening stretched from the rose garden all the way to the World Showplace entrance, between Canada and the United Kingdom.


Pin displays

The displays pictured above and below showcased some upcoming pins and vinylmations from Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Hong Kong, Walt Disney World and the Disney Soda Fountain.

Vinylmation displays

We met Alice on our way to lunch
We met Alice on our way to lunch at Rose & Crown.

Lunch at The Rose & Crown
Carrie, Kelly and I took a break and had a wonderful lunch at Rose & Crown


Trading

Jeanne Lewis
Jeanne Lewis took the stage to announce what was coming in 2015!


The pin portion of the Trade Celebration concluded at 6:00 p.m. Overall it was a successful event although the lines were much too long and I am not sure that will ever change.

Parting Gift
Our parting gift for the Pin Event was this 4 Pin Boxed Set, a Limited Edition of 1100.


I was disappointed in the décor, it was less elaborate than previous years. Also, in years past there were groups of entertainers who wandered the floor interacting with traders. There was no interaction with characters this year; all of the entertainment took place on the stage and that got tiresome after the first hour of the first day. It seemed like they had a couple of hours worth of material and they just repeated it over and over and over again during the three day event. It quickly went from entertaining to annoying!

I really liked the surprise pins this year, better than previous events and I found that the boards had a much better selection of pins. The merchandise was good, although the mystery pin debacle was disappointing. The food at the breakfast was better than previous years. As in past years there were good things and not so good things that happened but it was still a fun time and an opportunity to spend a couple of days with good friends who share my interest in pin trading. I am already planning my return next year.

We finished the day off by going to Hollywood Studios for a quick bite at Min & Bill's Dockside Diner. We shopped a bit and then watched the Frozen Fireworks display. It was wonderful! I hope that they keep them going for a while; I would love Gary to be able to see them in October when we are back.

Sunday Sept 7th
This day was the vinylmation portion of the Trade Event, my favourite part. I admit it; I have fallen in love with these little guys and prefer trading and collecting them, for me it's more fun than pins.

Vinylmation Event Credentials

We were signed up for the breakfast so we got to the entrance about 7:30 a.m. There was a line but the dog and security officers were on duty and things were moving. We were manually checked into World Show Place and immediately proceeded to a trading line.

Breakfast Vinylmation Gift
Everyone at the breakfast received a gift, this Limited Edition Minnie vinylmation.


There were several lines set up, most had a mystery box and an open box and you could trade one from each. There were 2 lines that had spinner boxes where you could trade only one. We stuck to the "double trade" lines.

Vinylmation trading

Vinylmation display

The big challenge this year was to find the surprise cast chasers; there were four. Blue Hat Chip & Dale were the easier chaser to find while the Orange Hat Chip & Dale were rarer. The lines were not too bad during the breakfast hour and a half but at 9:30 a.m. when the rest of the registered guests arrived they got a bit longer, on average about a one hour wait (better than the pin boards).

While we were in line they announced some special releases. A Figment eachez and a Clarice eachez. What “eachez” means is that the vinylmation release is limited, they are in a blind box, and 1 in 10 will be a variant. Of course everyone wants the variant but sometimes I think the regular vinylmation is better looking. Carrie and I decided to stay in the lines while about 1000 people opted to go get in the merchandise line to try and buy one of the special releases. This allowed our lines to move faster and we were both successful in getting our chasers.

Event Vinylmations
The four Chip & Dale vinylmations are surprise cast chasers, Clarice is an echez.


Once we had achieved the goal of getting our chasers we continued trading in the lines. If we got lucky enough to be close to the box when they did a refresh we were pretty much guaranteed to get a good trade. They refreshed the boxes about every 25 to 35 minutes. Once I got a few good pulls from the box I headed into the back room to see what I could trade for. This is where you can actually trade for vinylmations that you want to add to your collection.

Thomas Scott
Thomas Scott, Graphic Designer, took the stage to announce new vinylmations we could expect in 2015!


Eachez

Eachez

Eachez

Eachez

The event closed at 6:00 p.m. and I walked away a happy camper. I got lots of good vinylmations to add to my collection; I was able to trade for one of the special release vinylmations, Clarice (Limited Edition 1000). I got one of the 900 regular version not one of the 100 variants. I wasn't able to get a Figment.

My thoughts on this portion of the event are the same as the pin portion of the event, the entertainment was lacking. It was actually the same as the previous 2 days so by day three it was very annoying. The food was good and the cast members were great but the lines were long and it would be nice if they did a few more refreshes of the boxes. I really liked the surprise chasers and that there were four, in previous years there was only one. Overall it was a good event and I look forward doing it again.

2015 Theme - genEARation D
The theme for the 2015 event was announced - genEARation D ! No dates yet!


Steamboat Willie
There will be a "genEARation D" pin released each month leading up to next year's event. Steamboat Willie was the first of the series, released at the event, a Limited Edition of 500.

Carrie and I were both tired and had to go pack so we said our goodbyes to the gang and slowly walked back to the Beach Club. We dropped our stuff off and went down to Beaches & Cream for dinner. We finished off the evening with ice cream.

Beaches & Cream

Monday September 8th
We were moving slow; we had time to enjoy a coffee and then finish off the packing. Carrie was catching the Magical Express so we said our goodbyes. I had the day to hang around so I took my luggage over to check-in for my flight and then decided I would walk over to EPCOT.

World Showcase

I wandered around a bit but it was very hot so I decided to go to Downtown Disney and have lunch at Earls. After lunch, I wandered around for a while and decided I might as well head to the airport and sit there.

My flight home was uneventful; Gary was waiting in Syracuse to pick me up. Another event come and gone, time to start planning next years - as soon as they announce the dates!!

September 28, 2014

The Disney Wilderness Preserve

Gary Cruise banner

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and how you can be a Conservation Hero. While I was browsing the Internet, doing research for the blog, I came across an intriguing web page. The headline read “Butterflies by Swamp Buggy at Disney Wilderness Preserve”

Butterfly_Swamp_Buggy_Web_Page

My first thought was, “What better way to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of nature than by chasing butterflies through a wilderness preserve with a swamp buggy?”

My mind drifted back about 15 years to the vacation Carol and I enjoyed at Pelee Island, Canada's southernmost point.

Pelee_Island_map

Every summer Pelee Island is teeming with Giant Swallowtail butterflies and we spent a glorious, sunny summer afternoon snapping pictures of swallowtails. I still have vivid memories of Carol, camera in hand, bounding through farm fields following flitting butterflies. Butterflies can flit faster than Carol can bound so her antics kept me entertained all afternoon!

My second thought was, “Disney Wilderness Preserve? What's that?”

Did you know that there is a big Disney conservation project just minutes from Walt Disney World?

You are not alone . . . neither did I. Not many people are aware of the Disney Wilderness Preserve, just 15 miles from Walt Disney World. It's at 2700 Scrub Jay Trail in Kissimmee.

It's a huge preserve, about 12,000 acres - almost 19 square miles!

The project began in 1992, before the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund was established. The Walt Disney Company heard that an 8,500 acre cattle ranch located at the head of the Greater Everglades Watershed was going to be re-zoned for extensive residential and commercial development. This would have destroyed a huge tract of natural wetlands, as well as habitat for many endangered plants and wildlife.

Disney acted quickly and quietly to preserve this sensitive property. Working with The Nature Conservancy, the State of Florida, and a number of other groups, The Walt Disney Company purchased the property to mitigate its expansion and transferred it to the Conservancy. They were instrumental in the creation of a nature preserve dedicated to wetlands conservation on an unprecedented scale. After the initial purchase The Walt Disney Company provided funds for restoration and wildlife monitoring on the property and they continue to endow a number of on-site projects.

Lake_Russell

How successful has the project been? On their web site, The Nature Conservancy refers to it as “A Model Preserve” and goes on to say, “Land that was heavily logged and ranched for decades has been restored to very near to its original state and once again resembles the descriptions left by the area’s first Spanish missionaries.”

Sounds good to me - sensitive wetlands preserved as natural animal habitat rather than littered with factories, roads, houses and strip malls. Just another heroic initiative that makes me proud to be a Disney fan!

Palmetto

But let's get back to the swamp buggy and the butterflies. I mentioned the web site to Carol; she immediately said, “We're there in October, let's sign up!” So we did!

This is one of many events which makes up Central Florida NatureFest, an Outdoor and Photography Festival organized each year by the Central Florida Visitor's and Convention Bureau. The cost is a mere $5.00 per person!

Here's how they described it. “Fall is the best time for butterflies in our area when wildflowers are abundant. Disney Wilderness Preserve is a mosaic of habitats such as marshes, lake edges, open meadows, flat woods and roadsides. All of these areas are attractive to butterflies. To be expected here are swallowtails, sulphurs, hairstreaks, crescents, fritillaries, skippers and more.

The Disney Wilderness Preserve is a vast and beautiful natural site and the best way to travel in these parts is by Swamp Buggy. So all aboard the Swamp Buggy and be ready to hang-on while your guides point out butterflies and nature’s beauty. This is a spectacular excursion that everyone can enjoy.”

Our friend and fellow Fort Wilderness camper Al, from Missouri is joining us. Carol is keen on the butterflies but Al and I are really looking forward to that swamp buggy ride!

I hope to do a blog about the Butterfly/Swamp Buggy adventure so stay tuned! If I can get any good action shots of Carol bounding after butterflies I’ll be sure to include them!

In the meantime, here are a few pictures provided by VisitCentralFlorida.org and The Nature Conservancy.


Disney_Wilderness_Preserve

Butterfly_Swamp_Buggy_Tour

Giant_Swallowtail
Giant Swallowtail

Zebra_Swallowtail
Zebra Swallowtail

Can you enjoy the Disney Wilderness Preserve? Yes, you can. The preserve is open daily Sunday-Friday (closed Saturdays and most major holidays) 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. There is no entry fee, but donations are always welcome.

Cypress_at_Lake_Russell

Boardwalk

The 2 1/2 mile hiking loop takes you past the shore of Lake Russell and then offers a closer look at the preserve’s natural communities. What will you see? The landscape and foliage includes: cypress swamp, freshwater marsh, scrub, flatwoods and oak hammocks.

Lake_Russell_at_Reedy_Creek
Lake Russell at Reedy Creek

There is a rejuvenated longleaf pine forest with a lush understory of native grasses, saw palmetto and other shrubs. The rejuvenation is the result of “prescribed fire” on the land. They have used “controlled burns” to remove invasive plants that are not native to the area. These fires have resulted in an amazing return to the type of pine forests those first Spanish missionaries saw.

Long_Leaf_Pine_Forest

Pine_flatwoods

Key flowers include the fall-flowering ixia, Catesby’s lily and terrestrial orchids.

Rose_rush
Rose Rush

Pickerel_weed
Pickerel Weed

Animal life includes bald eagle, red-cockaded woodpecker, wood stork, sandhill crane, northern harrier and crested caracara. The preserve is also home to the southeastern big-eared bat, Sherman’s fox squirrel, eastern indigo snake and gopher tortoise. The Florida panther has even been documented crossing the site!

Sandhill_cranes

Read about the Disney Wilderness Preserve HERE.

Sunset

Next time you visit Walt Disney World, set aside a day for a hike at the Disney Wilderness Preserve.

It looks awesome, I cannot wait to experience it first-hand!



Sincere thanks to VisitCentralFlorida.org and The Nature Conservancy for agreeing to share their photos!

September 20, 2014

Walt Disney World Hidden History - Book Review

Alice%20Miller%27s%20masthead.jpg

walt-disney-world-hidden-history.jpg
Walt Disney World Hidden History: Remnants of Former Attractions and Other Tributes,
2nd edition by Kevin Yee
By Alice McNutt Miller

If your family is anything like mine, when you arrive at one of the parks at Walt Disney World, say the Magic Kingdom, you sprint down Main Street USA toward whichever attraction for which you have your first FastPass+, without looking up, down, or around you. You miss the little details. A LOT of little details: references to Disney films and former attractions; tributes to Imagineers and prominent Disney personalities; and many other hidden gems. What you really need is a guidebook to show you where to look.

gorillafalls01.jpg


Keven Yee has just released the 2nd Edition of Walt Disney World Hidden History, a comprehensive update of the 1st edition of the book, reflecting the myriad changes in the parks since its original publication in 2011 (See Review) .

This edition includes over 150 new and updated references, and tons of color photos. The format of the new book is the same as in the first edition, taking the reader on a virtual tour of each of the parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom) starting with the entrances, and moving through each of the “lands.” There is also a “General Walt Disney World” chapter that includes references found throughout the resort, including in the water parks, resort hotels, Downtown Disney. Yee also throws in a bonus chapter on “History at Universal Studios Florida” and includes helpful lists of current and former attractions and of the individuals honored in the Main Street USA windows in the Magic Kingdom, as well as a comprehensive index.


underthesea3.jpg


New inclusions of note include those devoted to references in the Backstage Magic with Mickey Mouse, Storybook Circus and other New Fantasyland areas. After reading Yee’s book, I think Disney history buffs who have not yet taken in the sights in Backstage Magic with Mickey Mouse (including me!) would be well advised to do so. This area is full of subtle and not-so-subtle references, including tributes to famous (animators Wilfred Jackson, Fred Moore and Ward Kimball) and not-so-famous (marketing executive Scott Tilley) Disney personages, and installations celebrating Disney parks and attractions throughout the world.

cinderellacastle2.jpg


The New Fantasyland section sheds light on some of the newer references that park-goers may have certainly noticed, but not understood. Whose portrait is that hanging prominently in the back of the Bonjour Village Gifts? Why Magic Kingdom Vice President Phil Holmes, of course! Next time you are in the gift shop, take a closer look: “Numerous winks in the painting pay tribute to changes during his tenure: a ring with ‘40’ stamped on it (the 40th anniversary of the park in 2011), Aladdin’s lamp (the addition of Magic Carpets of Aladdin), Snow White’s apple (the closure of Snow White’s Scary Adventures), peanuts (for the addition of Storybook Circus), bronze statue of Donald Duck (the trinket given to Cast Members when they pass 40 years of service), and a map of the Magic Kingdom showing Mickey’s Toontown Fair (the first land to close).

While I very much enjoyed the updated edition of the book, I still wish that it were organized in a more user-friendly way. Other than separate chapters for each park, , and without sub-headings for the various park locations, the topic headings are rather random, referring alternately to attractions, names of Imagineers, dates and other unrelated items. The best way to make sense of the flow would be to read the book, in order and with a park map next to you, as the references will take you on a relatively linear tour of the parks.

The book has been painstakingly researched, however, and color photos enhance the presentation. I’m not sure Yee has missed any references, as he seems to have scoured every inch of the parks for them. Readers—serious Disney history buffs and casual park visitors alike—will certainly find something to enjoy. And something to search for on their next visit!

Disclosure: The author provided a complimentary review copy, however my opinions are my own. The above link to the book is via the AllEars Amazon affiliate store.

September 15, 2014

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - September 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 August Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler crossword:

http://allears.net/ae/mb081614-key.pdf

There were 87 correct responses that knew Dewey’s real name is Deuteronomy Duck. The other two nephews are named Huebert and Louis.

The winner of a Tigger pin was Julie H. of Topeka, KS. Thanks for playing!

This month I am going to try a little something different! I thought we would try a word search puzzle.

The theme is Walt Disney World Resorts, and the clues are beneath the puzzle. There’s no word bank this month, so this may be a little more challenging!

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.

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

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

Any feedback on the different format would be appreciated!

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

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.

Page 1 of 3

Return to Blog Central

Categories