Page 1 of 3

December 18, 2014

Frozen Premium Package Review

by J. Scott Lopes
Guest Blogger

I recently experienced the VIP Frozen Premium package at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This package consists of two parts. The first part is reserved seating for the Frozen "First Time in Forever" Sing-along. The second component is a Frozen-themed dessert party, which includes a limited release Frozen pin and lithograph.

Once I arrived at the park I checked in at the MyMagic+ service center (the former location for Sid Cahuenga’s near the front of the park), where I was able to select my show time for the Frozen sing-along, and also receive my lanyard.

frozen-premium-package-01.jpg


frozen-premium-package-24.jpg


The First Time in Forever: A "Frozen" Sing-Along Celebration was held in the Premiere Theater, which had a special entrance on the Streets of America for this package.


frozen-premium-package-11.jpg


I went to this location at my selected time and was led into the theater to the section of reserved seats, located in the first few rows. The theater was perfectly themed -- no detail was left out. They even had icicles around the sound booth:


frozen-premium-package-06.jpg


frozen-premium-package-05.jpg


The sing-along started with Anna, but was hosted by two royal historians of Arendelle, and they added a lot of comedic value to the show:


frozen-premium-package-07.jpg

During the show there were many opportunities to sing along, and if you didn’t know the words (although almost everybody did!) they had multiple screens that showed the lyrics:

frozen-premium-package-08.jpg

Kristoff and Elsa also joined the show:

frozen-premium-package-09.jpg


frozen-premium-package-10.jpg


The dessert party takes place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and is held at the end of the Streets of America in an area that used to be part of the Backlot Tour. The entrance to the area is on the side that faces the restrooms near the Lights, Motors, Action show. A member of my party happened to be in an ECV, and we were having trouble getting to the entrance, so when we explained the situation to a cast member they accommodated us by letting us enter though the other side of the event. While we waited for the event I checked out the Wandering Oaken’s Frozen Snowground, where kids could play in the "snow" and there was lots of Frozen merchandise for sale.

Once we were allowed into the party area, we found a wide variety of themed desserts, such as Anna and Elsa cupcakes:

frozen-premium-package-17.jpg

frozen-premium-package-18.jpg

Olaf cake pops

frozen-premium-package-19.jpg

There were lots of other dessert items and drinks, including hot tea and coffee, hot chocolate, bottled water and soda, and specialty alcoholic beverages.

frozen-premium-package-02.jpg

frozen-premium-package-12.jpg

frozen-premium-package-13.jpg

frozen-premium-package-14.jpg

frozen-premium-package-15.jpg

Besides the desserts, the greatest benefit of attending the dessert party is that you get a terrific view of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights without having to mingle with the crowds, unless you want to:

frozen-premium-package-16.jpg

frozen-premium-package-20.jpg

frozen-premium-package-21.jpg

frozen-premium-package-23.jpg

As is common at Disney events, attendees receive a limited release Frozen pin and litho:

frozen-premium-package-25.jpg


This was the first time in… well, this is actually the first time that I have ever attended a Disney dessert party. I think that Disney put together a great event that was well-themed, and also gave a great view of the Osborne lights.

I would recommend this event to anyone, especially people who want to view the lights in a less crowded area.

Tickets for this special Frozen Holiday Premium Package can be purchased for $89 per adult and $59 per child, from now until January 4, 2015. Park admission is required, but tax and gratuity are included.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

J. Scott Lopes is a long-time Disney fan who first went to Walt Disney World as a child in 1989. He has enjoyed traveling to Orlando ever since. He is interested in all things related to the Disney Parks, especially Walt Disney Imagineering and all of the work and detail that they put into everything that they engineer.


December 17, 2014

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - December 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 November Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler Word Search:

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

There were 36 responses to the word search puzzle on PIXAR Characters. There was a bit of a mix-up in the solution for this puzzle, though. I apologize! There were two ANDY’s in the puzzle, so there were two possible solutions! The first 10 unused letters in the puzzle were either GVXYPJBJNR or GVXPJBJNRP. I accepted either answer.

The winner of a Sorcerer Mickey pin was Joel S. of Plainfield, IL. Again, sorry for the confusion, and thanks for playing!

This month we are going to have another word search puzzle, but since it’s the holiday season, the subject will be Disney during the Holidays.

Visiting the Disney theme parks during the holidays is a special time. From the decorations to the special entertainment events, it is a wonderful time to visit.

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

http://allears.net/ae/mb121614.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 January 12, 2015. 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-January.

As always, any feedback on the puzzle format or topics would be appreciated! Drop me a line at dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, everyone! May all your Disney dreams come true!

December 7, 2014

Memories of Discovery Island

Gary Cruise banner

Before I begin, I have a confession to make – I have never been to Discovery Island. Sad, but true! Fortunately, Carol and Rob enjoyed several short boat rides from Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground to Discovery Island, so once again they have acted as my consultants!

1979 Postcard Book - Discovery Island
1979 Postcard

Bay Lake, which surrounds Discovery Island, is a natural lake - unlike most of the waterways on Disney property. Even the Seven Seas Lagoon, which you cross by ferry from the Ticket and Transportation Centre to the Magic Kingdom, is man-made!

1984 Discovery Island Flyer
1984 Flyer (click on the image above for a clearer view)

It is quite likely that Walt Disney sailed on Bay Lake and walked on Discovery Island before buying the property. Of course in those days Discovery Island was called Riles Island and was used as a hunting retreat!

A few years after The Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, work began on a nature park on the 10-acre island. It opened as Treasure Island on April 8, 1974. The original theme for the island centred around pirates from the book by Robert Louis Stevenson. The “back-story” included a secret hideaway, buried treasure and the wreck of Captain Flint’s ship, The Walrus.

1977 Treasure Island Brochure outside
1977 Brochure

The island was a showplace for exotic birds and plants but they were all wrapped up in pirate decor. What sort of birds were there? The 1977 brochure, pictured above, refers to Blue Peafowl, Vulturine Guineafowl, Caribbean Flamingo, Chilean Flamingo, Southern Bald Eagle, Macaw, Cockatoo, African Crowned Crane, Demoiselle Crane and Sandhill Crane. Many of these were housed in one of the largest walk-through aviaries in the world.

Plant life, imported from around the world, included banana, palm and bamboo from East India, gardenias from China, orchid trees from India and passion flowers from South America.

Boats ran across Bay Lake between Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and the island every 20 minutes throughout the day.

Discovery Island Tickets

The place-names on the map below help tell the story of the pirate theme . . . Cap’n Flint’s Perch, Buccaneer’s Cove, Doubloon Lagoon, Mutineer Falls, Gang Plank Walk and Rum Point are a few!

1977 Treasure Island Brochure inside
1977 Brochure

The quotation in the upper right corner is from Ben Gunn, a character from the R. L. Stevenson book. Gunn was one of Captain Flint’s crewmen who was marooned on Treasure Island for three years.

Gunn’s quote appears in the image below.

Look closely

In the upper right hand corner of the map you see a ship which has run aground on the beach; that’s Captain Flint’s ship, The Walrus, shown below in a Disney postcard from 1975.

The Walrus postcard

Treasure Island never reached the anticipated attendance levels so after only two years it was closed and extensive renovations began! The pirate theme disappeared and when it re-opened in early 1976 it was named Discovery Island, focused specifically on conservation.

February 1981 Discovery Island

1979 Discovery Island Brochure outside
1979 Brochure

As you might expect, the map of Discovery Island is very similar to the map of Treasure Island. The trails and walkways were renamed and included Bird’s Eye View, Trumpeter Springs, Swan’s Neck, Vulture’s Haunt, Toucan Corner, Pelican Bay and Turtle Beach.

1979 Discovery Island Brochure inside
1979 Brochure

Discovery Island became renowned for its bird, plant and tortoise populations and was accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association in 1978. The aviaries were expanded and the facility functioned as a breeding facility for rare birds. The 40 foot tall, 32,000 square-foot, walk-through aviary remained; there were bird shows, a flamingo pool, and the Turtle Beach was still there.

The Walrus was still aground on the beach.

Rob along the trail

Rob at Parrots Perch

Brochures from the 1980’s and 1990’s show an increasing focus on conservation and environmental responsibility!

Animals and plants of Discovery Island

Wildlife on Discovery Island

1986 Discovery Island Brochure pg 1
1986 Brochure

1986 Discovery Island Brochure pg 2
1986 Brochure

1990s Discovery Island Brochure pg 1
1990 Brochure

1990s Discovery Island Brochure pg 2
1990 Brochure

As you left the Discovery Island dock, you encountered the Thirsty Perch Snack Bar and the restrooms on your left. The map directed you to the right, toward the Discovery Island Bird Show near the North Inlet. In some areas the walkway was elevated, crossing ponds, wetlands and marshy areas where birds and animals roamed freely. There were plenty of animal encounters as you passed Trumpeter Springs, North Falls, Swan’s Neck and Bamboo Hollow. Next in the journey was Monkey Point, home of the colony of Lemurs from Madagascar and their distant relatives, the Marmoset. Cranes Roost and Toucan Corner were the final viewing opportunities before you entered the enormous walk-through aviary, home of the striking Scarlett Ibis and so many other exotic birds which were visible over, under and beside the elevated boardwalks of Avian Way!

Great Hornbill postcard
Great Hornbill Postcard

Sarus Cranes postcard
Sarus Crane Postcard

Soon after exiting the aviary, you arrived at Pelican Bay populated by injured pelicans which had been treated in the Animal Hospital housed on the island. These injured birds spent their remaining years living in the lap of luxury as Disney guests!

Several varieties of pelicans lived around the ponds at Pelican Lagoon near the beach. Just past the pelicans were the giant turtles of Tortoise Beach, then Alligator Pool and the Birds of Prey Theatre were the final stops along the walk before you returned to your starting point at the dock.

Rob with a parrot

1990s Discovery Island Map
Mid 1990's Map

There were cast members all along the route; they described the animals you were seeing, their native countries, their natural habitats and their diets. In some areas there were opportunities to interact with the birds and animals, and there were some wonderful shows to see in the small theatres located along the trail. What a wonderful place! A peaceful and serene nature park so close to the clamorous activity in the Disney theme parks.

Vulture postcard
Vulture Postcard

Rob recollects, “My favourite thing along the trail was searching for the cavy! These South American rodents seemed to have the run of the place; when my Mom wanted to find me, she’d always look in the area where the cavies were and there I’d be. They were very shy animals and when I found them I’d stand very quietly and watch . . . it was never too long before some noisy kids came along and scared them away.” (Remember, Rob had reached the ripe old age of eight at the time!)

“I always enjoyed the turtles.” Rob added, “They were huge and roamed the beach not far from the dock. There was just a short concrete wall to keep them in place and you could easily step onto the beach and get close to them. Sometimes you would see a small kid riding a tortoise. The whole island was a very interactive place!

A Peacock

Discovery Island postcard
Discovery Island Postcard

Alas, it all came to an end. Many of the birds and animals moved to the new Disney’s Animal Kingdom when it opened in 1998 and Discovery Island closed permanently in April 1999. Today you can still see the vestiges of the aviary netting as you sail past the island heading to or from Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

The wreckage of Cap’n Flint’s ship, the Walrus, is still there, almost covered in vines and foliage, as you can see in the picture below which I took in October 2014.

The Walrus October 2014

The island is now a registered bird sanctuary and each evening as the sun begins to set you will see thousands of birds come in to roost for the night.

It seems a fitting end for Discovery Island.

December 3, 2014

The World From a New Point of View

laura-schmitt-2.jpg
By Guest Blogger Laura Schmitt

I remember that first trip, when our girls were only 3 and 5. They were full of excitement and energy and everything seemed to fall into place, perfectly. The magic was definitely with us. Once we caught that infectious desire to return to our new found happy place, we took any opportunity we could find to visit again. My oldest daughter was never a night owl, and she was always in bed by 8pm, but it didn't cramp our style. It wasn't until our last trip that we had to make such a change in the way we toured the World. With our oldest child in a wheelchair for the first time, we were forced to look at Walt Disney World from a new point of view, and guess what? It was just as magical.

Our oldest has a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). While EDS presents itself differently in different people, for our daughter, once she hit those growth spurt years, it presented as non stop inflammation of joints, ever present level of pain, and the worst symptom...her joints started dislocating daily. Her shoulders are the worst, now, with daily should dislocations. Her knees and ankles used to give her more trouble. What that meant for a day at Walt Disney World was that she couldn’t walk the parks safely, she couldn’t do all the rides, and she didn’t have the stamina that other kids her age may start with. When embarking on such a big and expensive vacation, it is a little difficult to consider that you will have to go slower, see less, and pay the same, but we found that this wasn’t the case at all.

To start with, we rented a small wheelchair in our home town and we utilized that in the airport, which worked great. Once we got to Disney, we were a little nervous that people may give her dirty looks or make rude comments since the average person would never know by looking at her that she is struggling to keep her shoulder connected, or her knee cap from sliding out. People see only a young, vibrant girl and therefor, it is easy to assume that she could be faking to take advantage of any perks of being in a wheelchair. I was ready to explain to anyone who stopped us what EDS was and how it affects her, but you know what? No one did comment. The cast members did not treat her any differently than they treated her sister on two legs. If anything, she got a bit more positive attention. While she did feel self conscious that there were eyes on her from other people, I let her know that curiosity is normal and encouraged her to smile and not worry.

We still started our day in the same early to rise fashion that we always do, and we hit our favorite rides and shows. While the wheelchair may have slowed us down a bit, we were still able to do everything we wanted to do. Cast members are well trained in dealing with someone in my daughter’s situation. She is able to transfer on her own, so she was able to stand up and get into a ride while her chair was moved to the ride exit for her use. The system is so smooth and efficient that we never felt hindered. For shows, there are designated areas for the wheelchairs, which were open for us each and every time.

Break time was longer, with leisurely meals and relaxing time by the pool. We didn’t make it to the evening shows and fireworks, as my daughter was too worn out by the time evening rolled around, but we didn’t let that worry us at all. The way I figure it is that anything we miss during the trip is a good excuse to come back again another day. Also, if there is one thing that repeat trips to Disney World has taught me, it’s that the magic is often found in unplanned moments, so we kept our eyes and hearts open and we had a beautiful trip.

laura-schmitt-1.jpg

Our first trip to Walt Disney World in a wheelchair was just as wonderful a trip as any from previous years. If I had to weigh it out, I may even say it was better because my daughter was able to do everything that she wanted to do before this disability took hold of her body and began to dictate her life. She works hard in physical therapy, year round, and she wears braces that have given her some additional freedoms, but she is unable to safely attend school due to such easy and frequent shoulder dislocations. Being able to use her safe wheelchair space while touring the parks is the only way such a crowded environment would work for such a fragile child.

Should you ever find yourself ready to embark on a magical adventure with an unexpected injury looking to ruin your fun, don’t give up on the plan. Disney is unparalleled when it comes to accommodating special needs of all shapes and sizes. It truly is a magical place for every visitor.

It has been a couple of years, and I am sad to say that even though my daughters legs are improving, her shoulders are worsening. There is no cure for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and we can only hope that age and physical therapy will save her from losing the use of her shoulder joints over time. We continue to see specialists and search for innovations that may help her. In the meantime, we are prepping for our second trip to Walt Disney World from the slightly lower view of a wheelchair, and I can tell you... the view looks great from here.

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

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.

Page 1 of 3

Return to Blog Central

Categories