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January 2012 Archives

January 18, 2012

Meeting Disney's Spin and Marty

by Pam Passwater
Guest Blogger

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Like most of us growing up in the late '50s, every afternoon found me glued to the television watching the Mickey Mouse Club and the Mouseketeers, and enjoying one of their special series. My very favorite, hands down, was The Adventures of Spin and Marty, a serial about a group of boys spending the summer at a horse ranch, the Triple R. There were picnics, trail rides, swimming, a rodeo, campfires, the infamous snipe hunt, and lots of camaraderie. Later editions featured Annette and Darlene (two of the Mouseketeers) attending a neighboring girls' ranch. Tim Considine and David Stollery starred in all of them, and the show was wildly popular.

Flash-forward to December 2011 when the World Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club in Orlando announced that its holiday party would have Spin and Marty as the special guests! I immediately signed up and got the second to the last of the 90 limited tickets, but I promise you that I would have been the first gate crasher in their history if no more were available! Ticket in hand, I began telling friends, as well as anyone who would listen to me, that I was going to meet Spin and Marty, and to a woman, they swooned, confessing their love for one or the other. No one needed an explanation of just who they were.

The evening started when we got to the Hollywood Studios and waited a few minutes for our guide to lead us through the park to the Backlot area. We looked just like those foreign tour groups, except that we were all carrying gifts for the Toys for Tots campaign. We arrived at the old prop room, which had been part of the park's old walking tour, and discovered a beautiful set-up with tables full of auction items and two tables loaded with food produced by the Disney catering company.

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My fantasy started when I barely got inside and a photographer from the Orlando Sentinel grabbed my friend and me and took our photo with David Stollery (AKA Marty)! We visited with him for about five minutes and then it was someone else's turn.

We walked around looking at the great silent and live auction items and bid on a few, with all proceeds going to Give Kids the World village in Kissimmee. Thanks to all of the generous attendees, they will receive a sizable check for their programs. After an enjoyable dinner, one of the first Disney cartoons was shown, and then Tim and David took the stage.

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Although they were both from theater families, and had worked extensively before Walt Disney discovered them, neither made a career out of acting. They told us about their lives "after Disney" and then answered audience questions; mostly about their days as Spin and Marty. They said that they didn't know how to ride before filming and had to take riding lessons every day for four months to get them ready for the show.

David worked a few more years for Disney Studios and then went back to school to get a degree in Industrial Design from The Art Center College of Design. He worked for General Motors for seven years and was then hired by Toyota to establish and manage the California first Design group. David is credited with the design of the Second Generation A-40, 1978 Toyota Celica that was named Motor Trend Import Car of the Year! He later worked on 22 other vehicles for the automotive giant. He also designed a monorail and formed his own company, which now produces high-quality fiberglass lifeguard platforms.

Tim also did more work for Disney and then played the older son, Mike, in the TV show My Three Sons, before embarking on a career as a photographer and author. His latest book, American Grand Prix Racing: a Century of Drivers and Cars, shows off his skills as an automobile historian, photographer, and writer. Several of us had pre-purchased the book and he graciously autographed them for the future recipients. (My husband is a racing buff, and he was more than pleased with it.) Tim is now a high-priced and highly prized Beverly Hills photographer.

At the end of their talks, Allan Halcrow, Disneyana Fan Club Legend Chairperson, presented Tim and David with the highly coveted Disney Legend award. Only a few of the tens of thousands of people who have worked for the Walt Disney Company have been selected to receive this, and Tim and David were both surprised and appreciative. Then they signed photos and other mementos for guests, and graciously posed for pictures.

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Local artist, Barbara Schneid, who had met Tim and David at several previous Disney events, presented them with personalized quilts depicting their varying careers while highlighting their Spin and Marty days.

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All night I was wondering why there were so many people there that I didn't know, and later I found out why -- they were from all over the country!

"It was a perfect evening," said Arlen Miller, past president of the Disneyana Fan Club World chapter. I couldn't agree more.

For information: go to www.DisneyanaFanClub.org Meetings are every other month, and the next one is in February.
For more information, Contact us at: worldchapter@disneyanafanclub.org Also visit World Chapter on Facebook at:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/95390299991/

January 19, 2012

An Exotic Dining Adventure at Restaurant Marrakesh

Andrew Rossi

Even though the Moroccan pavilion in World Showcase has no attractions like some of the other countries, the pavilion is really an attraction unto itself. It is one of my favorite pavilions to walk through because it so completely immerses you into the sights, sounds, and culture of Morocco. With its winding back alleys and little shops, the pavilion is very successful in making you feel as though you have been transported to Morocco itself.

Morocco Pavilion

In fact, in order to ensure the authenticity of the pavilion, King Hassan II of Morocco sent some of his finest craftsmen to work on the site with Disney Imagineers. These craftsmen helped generate hundreds of thousands of square feet of carved stone and tile work inspired by the traditions of Islamic architecture found in Moroccan cities like Casablanca, Marrakesh, Rabat, and Fez. This level of detail is what makes the pavilion so captivating to me. Although I have walked through it many times, I always seem to notice some new little detail whenever I go. This high level of detail and theming, creating a completely immersive experience, is continued into Restaurant Marrakesh.

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Overview:
Dining at Restaurant Marrakesh is about more than just the meal itself, but rather the complete experience. Of all the restaurants around World Showcase, Restaurant Marrakesh provides one of the most immersive dining experience. The art and architecture, the music, and of course the food all contribute to give guests a small taste of Moroccan culture. The back of the menu provides a short overview of the country's culture and traditions and notes that Morocco is a country of "timeless wonders," a country of whose ancient mosques, synagogues, souks, churches, and kasbahs feature art and architecture which has been developed and refined over centuries. Indeed, dining at Restaurant Marrakesh makes you feel as though you have been transported to a time and place very far away and everything that you see, hear, and taste during your meal all contributes to this experience.

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Atmosphere:
While the dining room at Restaurant Marrakesh is not very large, it feels much bigger. Its high ceilings give the restaurant a very open feel, which is enhanced by the fact that the dining room is just one large space. Even the tables are also positioned so that they are not right on top of one another, giving an added sense of spaciousness. Also adding to this is a large, open dance floor located directly in the middle of the dining room.

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Marrakesh Dining Room2

The restaurant has a casual yet elegant feel, almost as if you were dining in the banquet hall of a Moroccan palace. This sense of grandeur, opulence, and luxury may not make it the best location when dining with small children, but it is an atmosphere that should not necessarily scare away families. However, the overall feel and theme of the dining room is one that will be appreciated more by adults.

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One of the things I enjoyed most about the restaurant was the level of detail in its art and architectural elements, all of which gives you plenty to look at as you are dining. The elaborate carvings, mosaics, painted ceilings, decorative carpets, and light fixtures all help to create an exotic feel of a faraway land and highlight the beauty of Arabic art.

Marrakesh Ceiling

Adding to this atmosphere is the lighting, or lack thereof. The dining room has no windows and thus no natural light. What light there is comes from the intricate light fixtures hanging from the ceiling, including some with pink lightbulbs, giving the dining room a dark, romantic, and somewhat mysterious feel.

Another major element of the atmosphere is the live entertainment. As noted earlier, dining at Restaurant Marrakesh is about having a complete experience. The immersion into Moroccan culture does not stop with the art, architecture, and detailed theming, but continues with music and dancing performed periodically in the center of the restaurant. While the live music is not continuous (the performances last about a half an hour), there is a good chance that you will see them perform at some point during your meal.


The music, unlike anything I have ever heard before, adds to the exotic feel of the restaurant but at the same time is not too overpowering. While it is loud enough to be heard from all parts of the restaurant, it is not so loud that you cannot have a conversation with others sitting at your table. After playing a couple of songs, the musicians were joined by a belly dancer performing some traditional Moroccan dances. I thought it was a nice touch that the dancer invited some of the children to the dance floor in the center of the room to teach them some different moves.

Belly Dancer

Overall, the music and dancing create a festive atmosphere and combine with the food and the restaurant's architectural elements to completely transport you to Morocco. The restaurant has a completely different feel from anywhere else I have dined at Disney World and a large part of this is because it is a complete sensory experience; its sights, sounds, and tastes all combine to completely immerse you into Moroccan culture.

The Menu:
As noted on the restaurant's menu "Moroccan cuisine is presented in a fashion that enhances its surroundings." This was my first-ever experience with Moroccan food and the menu at Restaurant Marrakesh definitely includes some different and exotic items for the more adventurous diners. One thing that I can say about Moroccan cuisine after my meal is that it is all about flavor. Just in my meal alone I noticed a wide assortment of spices and flavors that both complimented and contrasted each other with a level of complexity that went beyond food that I am typically used to eating. That being said, the food was actually not as spicy as I expected, but still full of flavor.

The lunch and dinner menus differ slightly in terms of food offerings and prices and both feature a fairly wide assortment of Moroccan dishes. The appetizer selections are constant for both lunch and dinner and include Harira Soup ($5.99), traditional hearty soup with tomatoes, eggs, lentils and lamb, Beef Brewat Rolls ($7.99), baked layers of thin pastry filled with seasoned minced beef and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar, Chicken Bastilla ($8.99) featuring baked layers of thin pastry filled with minced chicken and almonds, Seafood Bastilla ($9.99) filled with grouper, shrimp, and mushrooms, an Assorted Mediterranean Salad for Two ($13.99) including falafel, sundried tomatoes, hummus, roasted eggplant puree, and tabbouleh, a Goat Cheese with Crispy Bread for Two ($13.99) with mixture of cheeses and kalamata olives served with tabouleh, red pepper sauce, and balsamic vinegar reduction, and an Appetizer Combination for Two ($16.99) that includes the Beef Brewat Rolls, Chicken Bastilla, and a Jasmina Salad.

Lunch entrees feature an assortment of seafood, beef, chicken, and even vegetarian selections. My server noted that one of the more traditional items on the menu was the Roast Lamb Meshoui ($18.99) served in natural juices. There is also a Shish Kebab ($18.99) with grilled tenderloin of beef marinated in Moroccan herbs and spices, Chicken Kebabs ($16.99) featuring grilled brochettes of chicken breast marinated in Moroccan herbs and spices, North Atlantic Salmon ($21.99) pan seared with mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, oil, and hummus $21.99, Lemon Chicken ($17.99) braised with garlic, green olives, and preserved lemon, and a variety of Couscous options including Vegetable ($14.99), Chicken ($17.99), Lamb Shank ($19.99), and Beef ($18.99). If you are looking for a wide assortment of Moroccan tastes and flavors there is the Berber Feast which is $27.95 per person and is served family style. This entrée includes a Jasmina Salad, Chicken Kebabs, Roast Lamb Meshoui, Vegetable Couscous, and Baklava.

Among some of the items found only on the dinner menu are the Mogador Fish Tagine ($27.99) featuring marinated fish with olives, lemon, potatoes, green peppers, and a chermula sauce. There is also the Mediterranean Seafood Platter ($36.95) that includes Seafood Bastilla, Shrimp Ragout and Broiled Salmon served with seasoned as well as the Night in Casablanca ($36.95) with Seafood Bastilla, Roasted Lamb Meshoui, and chicken Kebab served with seasoned rice. The most extensive offering is the Royal Feast which is $42.95 per person and is served family style. This meal includes Harira Soup, Beef Brewat Rolls, Lemon Chicken, Roast Lamb Meshoui, Vegetable Couscous, and Assorted Moroccan Pastries.

The dessert options are limited to a Moroccan Symphony ($6.99) with assorted baklavas, the Marrakesh Delight ($5.99), which is a fresh fruit salad topped with mint ice cream, toasted almonds, and orange blossom water, and a Bastilla with crispy leaves of pastry topped with vanilla cream and sprinkled with cinnamon, powdered sugar and toasted almonds (For Two - $8.99, For One - $7.99).

For my meal I decided to try the Chef's Lunch Special ($19.99), which included a prix fixe selection of an appetizer, entrée, and a dessert. I felt this was the best way to get the most complete sampling of different Moroccan dishes for a very affordable price.

The appetizer was a Beef Brewat Roll, a thin pastry filled with minced beef and then topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar and accompanied by a small salad. I was a little hesitant about this dish because I was not sure how the combination of beef with cinnamon and powdered sugar would taste. I turned out to be pleasantly surprised. The pastry roll itself was delicious. Crispy and flaky, it tasted very much like a pastry you would have for dessert. The beef was not too heavily season and, in fact, the roll would not have had much flavor if it had not been for the cinnamon and powdered sugar. I was shocked at how well the cinnamon complimented and enhanced the flavor of the beef. These are not too flavors that I would typically associate with each other, but they contrasted and yet complimented each other very well. The salad that came with the beef roll was very light and refreshing and was topped with a mayonnaise-based salad dressing that was very creamy.

Beef Roll

The entrée on the lunch special was Chicken Kebabs, a dish that I have had before at other restaurants but never matching the flavors of the ones here at Marrakesh. The chicken was seasoned with Moroccan herbs and spices, which definitely gave it a little kick but was far from being overwhelming. There was also a slightly spicy sauce served over the kebabs, which enhanced the flavor of the chicken and added more complexity and depth to the flavor of the meal as a whole. My only complaint was that there could have been more sauce because, although the chicken was very tender, it was a little dry.

Chicken Kebab

Accompanying the chicken on the kebabs were mushrooms seasoned with the same spices. Although the mushrooms paired very well with the chicken, I felt they could have been cooked a little longer because they were a bit hard. The kebabs also came with rice. Surprisingly, for all the flavor found in the rest of the dish, the rice was pretty plain. This is another reason why it would have been nice to have more sauce because mixing it with the rice would have given it much more flavor.

The dessert was Baklava, a Moroccan specialty. Although the portion was not too big, it was just right size after a large meal. The pastries were light, flaky, and very sweet, which offered a nice contrast to the spiciness of the chicken kabobs. The Baklava was also topped with almonds which added more flavor and texture to the dessert.

Baklava

Service:
The service was really the only disappointing part of my experience at Restaurant Marrakesh. I hardly ever saw my server at all throughout the entire meal and when I did see him there was very little interaction. After I was seated, the server brought me a menu but did not even explain or describe any of the items for me, which I found a bit surprising because not too many Americans are familiar with Moroccan food. After taking my order the only times I saw my server were when he was bringing out my appetizer, entrée, and dessert. The server did not even stop by to make sure I was enjoying everything, which has never happened to me at a Disney restaurant. That being said, I thought the pace of the meal was very good. Sometimes when you order off of a prix fixe menu the appetizer, entrée, and dessert are brought out in rapid succession, but here the meal progressed at a leisurely pace giving you time to enjoy the entertainment and digest between courses.

Dining on a Budget:
As with most restaurants at Disney World, I highly recommend going to Restaurant Marrakesh for lunch rather than dinner because you are getting a very similar menu but at a much cheaper price. For example, the Roast Lamb Meshoui will cost you $18.99 for lunch but then goes up to $27.99 for dinner. Likewise the Shish Kebabs are $18.99 for lunch and $28.99 for dinner, the Chicken Kebabs go up from $16.99 for lunch to $24.99 for dinner, and the Lemon Chicken increases from $17.99 for lunch to $25.99 for dinner. I am sure the dinner portions are larger than the lunch portions, but I left lunch feeling completely full and satisfied.

The best value on the menu for either lunch or dinner is definitely the Chef's Lunch Special because you get a complete meal with appetizer, entrée, and dessert for just $19.99. The lunch and dinner menus actually feature several options that allow you to sample of variety of Moroccan dishes and while these are more expensive than the Lunch Special, they still offer a good value for your money. The Berber Feast for $27.95, Mediterranean Seafood Platter for $36.95, the Night in Casablanca for $36.95, and even the Royal Feast for $42.95 might seem a little expensive, but when you consider the amount and assortment of food you get with each they come out to be cheaper than if you were ordering an appetizer, entrée, and dessert separately off the menu.

Restaurant Marrakesh does participate on the Disney Dining Plan and is worth one table service credit for both lunch and dinner. The restaurant also offers a 10% discount for Annual Passholders, but only for lunch on Mondays through Fridays. There is also a 20% discount for Disney Vacation Club Members for both lunch and dinner. The restaurant also participates in Tables in Wonderland and offers the 20% for its members.

The Overall Experience:
This was my first time dining at Restaurant Marrakesh and I can say without a doubt that I will definitely be going back again. Nearly every aspect of the restaurant exceeded my expectations. The level of detail and theming in the restaurant's décor, the authentic Moroccan music and dancing, and the extremely flavorful food all contributed to create a completely immersive atmosphere. I think this has to be one of the more exotic dining locations I have eaten at in Disney World. More so than many other dining locations at Disney, Restaurant Marrakesh transports you to another time and another place, a faraway land very different from our own, and gives you a little taste of Moroccan culture. I would highly recommend this restaurant for anyone looking for a meal that is both different and unique. It is definitely a restaurant for the more adventurous eater, those people who like to try different dishes and experience different flavors. The best part of Restaurant Marrakesh is that it is more than just a meal, but rather an experience that is aptly described on the restaurant's menu as "a cultural feast."

See past reviews by Guest Blogger Andrew Rossi.

Check out Reader Reviews of Restaurant Marrakesh and post your own too!

January 22, 2012

Cure The Winter Blahs With Antenna Toppers

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Got the winter blahs?

Cold weather got you down?

Are you looking for a project to keep you busy and put a bit of Disney into your life?

Here's a suggestion for you . . . build some racks to display your Disney antenna toppers!

Are you like me; married to a Disney fan who is also a compulsive collector? Or perhaps you are the collector . . .

Whichever is the case, you probably have boxes or bags full of Disney antenna toppers. My dear wife Carol swears she will never buy another, but then she spots that new one, Mickey in his yellow rain poncho, and she just has to have it! Naturally it goes home with us and is soon tossed in the box with all the rest.

Last year she said to me, "I need something that will display my toppers. What can you build for me?" We talked about how and where she wanted to put them and then I went to work.

Here's what I came up with:

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So here's how you can display yours too. It's easy, it's inexpensive and it's very flexible. Everything you need is at your local lumber store. You do it all with 1" X 2" spruce or pine strapping and 3/16" dowels. The only tools required are a saw and an electric drill with a 3/16" drill bit.

There are only two dimensions to worry about, cut the dowel into 2" lengths and drill the holes for the dowels so that the centers are 2 3/4' apart. That's all there is to it!

You can sand, stain, paint and finish the wood in any color you like, to match your furniture or décor.

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So the first step is to cut the 1" X 2" boards to the length you need. I have various lengths to fit different locations

If you want a rack for two toppers cut the board 5 3/4" long and leave 1 1/2" clear at each end.

To display three toppers cut the board 8 1/2" long and leave 1 1/2" clear at each end.

To display four toppers cut the board 11 1/4" long and leave 1 1/2" clear at each end.

You can do the math; just add another 2 3/4" in length for every post you want to add.

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The next step is to measure and mark the boards and then drill the holes. Be careful to keep the drill perpendicular to be sure that your posts are straight up and down. If you have access to a drill press this makes it easy to do a good job, but it can also be done easily by hand, just be sure to keep the drill straight and square to the board.

Do not drill all the way through the board, drill your holes about 1/2" deep.

Now cut enough dowels, 2" long, to fill the holes you just drilled. Do not put them in the holes just yet. That part comes after you have sanded, painted or stained and finished all the wooden parts.

Once everything is sanded and painted or stained you can use a hammer to gently tap the dowels into the holes. That's it; you are done!

Aren't you proud of yourself? Give yourself a pat on the back!

OK, now it's time to fill-up those new topper racks. Here's how Carol has used a few of hers.

In the Jack Skellington Shrine!
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On a tabletop.
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Along the top of a bookcase.
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On top of the stereo components.
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So why don't you get creative and see how you can display your antenna toppers?

You're sure to shake those winter blahs!

January 25, 2012

A Special Cruise on the Grand 1

by Sandi Lamborne
Guest Blogger

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On Saturday January 14, 2012 we chartered The Grand 1 Yacht as a birthday surprise for our friends. We started out trying to reserve a pontoon boat but learned that we had too many people in our group, so we decided to go for the "once in a lifetime" chance to ride the Grand 1. The Yacht can take up to 18 guests. It can take 17 if you decide to have a butler aboard, but you only need a butler if you are ordering "hot" food for your guests.

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The Grand 1 is a 52-foot SeaRay Sedan Bridge Cruiser. While speaking to Captain Hooper we were told it was a 2007 and it was recently refurbished. We took pictures of each stateroom and the salon, but they really don't do it justice.

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We elected to leave from The Grand Floridian but you can choose to leave from any resort marina. As a matter of fact, some of our guests were running late as they were using the Disney transportation buses from Old Key West. We told our captain they were just leaving the stop at Fort Wilderness and he said we could have picked them up there instead of having them take the bus the rest of the way to The Grand Floridian.

The price is $520 an hour (plus $33.80 tax, and we did tip the captain and first mate). We weren't sure if that would be enough time, but we had little ones aboard that had a busy day planned Sunday and we didn't want them out too late. The hour turned out to work perfectly.

The boat goes out a half-hour before Wishes. On the day we chartered the Grand 1, Wishes was at 8 p.m. so we were told to be at the marina by 7 p.m. Most of us got there by 7 or a bit earlier. It was a slightly chilly night so the captain graciously let us aboard and turned on the heat... suddenly we were glad we didn't all fit on the pontoon. If you close the glass sliding doors, the salon was toasty warm and even the bridge had heat and clear plastic curtains that the captain had snapped shut.

We ordered a 10-inch cake for our birthday celebrations. That came to $70 by the time they added in the delivery to the yacht and taxes, but it was one of the best cakes I have ever had. We ordered the vanilla cake with the custard and strawberry filling and a whipped cream icing. The cake was supposed to be delivered and set up before we boarded, but there was some type of mix-up with the time in the kitchen so we waited on the bridge as they set up the cake in the salon. They placed a tablecloth on the table with the cake and sprinkled candy Mickeys around. It also came with a serving knife, real plates and silverware, candles, matches, and plenty of napkins.


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By the time our last guests got aboard it was a bit past 7:30, but it was still plenty of time to cruise Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon while we sang Happy Birthday and ate cake, before we settled into position for the fireworks. (Some of the guys aboard were even watching some of the playoff game on the TV).


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The captain unsnapped the bridge for people up top and those of us downstairs stepped out of the salon onto the aft deck to get ready for Wishes.

The Grand 1 has speakers throughout so the the music from Wishes can be heard from anywhere in the yacht. It was amazing and we could hear our guests oohing and aahing with each colorful burst.


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After Wishes we headed back to The Grand Floridian. The little ones had a ball exploring the rest of the Yacht. I'm not even sure they knew we were moving, as it was such a smooth ride and there was so much to see on board. Even the smallest stateroom with bunk beds had TVs at each end of the beds. There was one slightly nervous moment when two of our little ones locked themselves in the master stateroom, but one of the moms was able to talk them through how to unlock the door and everyone had a big laugh and we didn't have to leave anyone on board.

It was a magical experience and a great way to see Wishes. It was like Disney set them off just for us.


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January 31, 2012

Walt and the Promise of Progress City: Site Design

EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the next few months, AllEars.Net will be highlighting exclusive excerpts from Sam Gennawey's book, Walt and the Promise of Progress City. The book explores the process through which meaningful and functional spaces were created by Walt Disney and his artists, as well as how guests understand and experience those spaces. It also takes a look how Walt wanted to change the public's expectations about city life in the same way his earlier work had redefined what it meant to watch an animated film or visit an amusement park. In this month's excerpt, we learn about how the theme parks are spatially organized, and how the familiar "hub-and-spoke" layout came about.

Site Design
by Sam Gennawey

Make no mistake. The spaces within the park are not representative of reality but become a hyper reality -- stylized and tightly edited versions of the real thing. The buildings are shrunk and edited to meet the needs of the story that binds everything together. However, Disneyland is a legible urban environment.

As a result of the innovative site design plan for Disneyland, guests are provided with a comprehensible orientation and an environment that induces a change of mood. Key to this was Walt's decision to set his park within a strong boundary, with only a single entrance, and with a radial, or hub-and-spoke, circulation system.

Walt picked Marvin Davis to be the master planner for Disneyland. From the very beginning, Walt was clear about his intentions for Disneyland. He told Davis, "I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train." He said he wanted the railroad tracks on the high ground so guests could preview all the wonderful things that would be inside the berm. Davis described the site design process for Disneyland, "I was working in what they call the Zorro building as the project designer for master planning of the Park at the time. This was before they even knew where the Park was going." Davis continues, "Before they bought the property-I guess I must have done, well I know I did 129 different schemes for the solution of the thing - different entryways - until finally it developed into the scheme that it is now with the single entrance and the walk for the avenue, which is Main Street, up to the center of the hub. Walt's idea was to have the whole thing as radials from that hub."

In August 1953, Walt walked into Marvin Davis' office with the map of the property he just purchased in Anaheim. Walt took out a pencil and drew the exact placement of where he wanted his train. The drawing showed the railroad tracks running around the perimeter forming a triangular boundary. That basic outline still represents the boundaries of the park. Understanding that constraint, Davis knew what to do next.

Walt looked at all sorts of public spaces and their circulation patterns. He said, "I've been studying the way people move at museums and other entertainment places. Everybody's got tired feet. I don't want that to happen in this place." He called this problem "museum feet." He described the feeling when "the ache of having walked too much just to get through the place" made the visit unpleasant. He figured that he could mitigate this issue through better planning. "I want a place for people to sit down and where older folks can say, 'you kids run on. I'll meet you there in a half hour,'" Walt said. "Disneyland is going to be a place where you can't get lost or tired unless you want to."

Walt and Davis decided that the best solution to avoid "museum feet" was to lay out the park's circulation plan like a bicycle wheel. This is known as the radial plan. It has also been called the hub-and-spoke pattern because the pathways radiate out in every direction like spokes connected to a hub on a bicycle tire. Davis noted, "The overall shape of the park, with its single entrance, was Walt's and that was the key to the whole thing. Walt was very circulation conscious, and he wanted a single entrance so that they could control the number of people that came in, and know the number that went out, and know what's in the park." The benefit of this layout is that no matter where you go, it is easy to find a way to come back to a familiar central area. "[Walt] wanted to solve everything with the radial idea," recalled Marvin Davis in a 1991 interview with authors and filmmakers Richard and Katherine Greene. It gave "people a sense of orientation-they know where they are at all times."

This radial plan concept was so successful that the design pattern has been embedded in virtually every Disney theme park. Walt remarked, "The more I go to other amusement parks in all parts of the world, the more I am convinced of the wisdom of the original concepts of Disneyland. I mean, have a single entrance through which all traffic would flow, then a hub off which the various areas were situated." He added, "That gives people a sense of orientation-they know where they are at all times. And it saves a lot of walking."

Main Street is more than just a narrow pathway to get you from one point to another. One Disney executive called it a "mindsetter." J.G. O'Boyle said, "Main Street, U.S.A. has a more significant function-it serves as a meticulously coded social instrument designed to communicate a complex set of instructions-a theme-to each of the guests-instantly, harmoniously, and wordlessly." O'Boyle concluded, "That message is a reminder of our shared cultural identity."

At the end of Main Street, just in front of the castle, is a circular park called the Plaza Hub. This is the central gathering spot within the park. "Walt observed how families made decisions about what to do next," John Hench said." He concluded that they needed a lot of space, as they would stop and gather around with one child or two hanging outside the group." The solution was the use of "hubs-open, essentially circular spaces that afford views in many directions-[and that] facilitate decision making. From a hub, guests can see and point to many of the choices they might make." Hench added, "Decision-making is very fatiguing. Relating things that are unrelated is fatiguing". If you start wandering from one thing to another, not quite knowing what you want to see, you will wear yourself out." He suggested that "You come to a point in the park that we know is a decision point, we put two choices. We try not to give them seven or eight so that they have to decide in a qualitative way which is the best way." Walt and his team gave this careful consideration in an attempt to manipulate crowd flow. In the book Vinyl Leaves, author Stephen Fjellman said, "The Disney strategy is to disperse people as widely as possible and to keep them moving." Even the stores along Main Street were planned with interior pathways to mitigate congestion on the street.

Some of the destination decisions had been made early in the design process. Davis stated, "We knew we wanted the fantasy rides up at the end of Main Street, once you go through the castle. Then the other lands just logically took their place." To eliminate the confusion common to visiting an unfamiliar place, each land has a "Main Gateway"; these gateways are all similar in design, are laid out to form a group, and are all easily visible from the Hub.

Guests standing in the hub can tell from each gateway what they might expect once they have passed through that portal. The guest can decide to walk east into the future toward Tomorrowland, north toward the castle drawbridge and Fantasyland, west toward the stockade at the entrance of Frontierland, or veer off path just a bit and enter Adventureland. Each path radiates out from and returns to the Plaza Hub.

Since Disneyland opened, research has been done to determine how the park influences guests on a subconscious level and what this means to human behavior. The structures along Main Street are both functional and symbolic. They reinforce our self-image and form a collective memory. John Hench said, "Part of it, I suppose, was Walt's exploitation of very old survival patterns. He had an instinct for this. I think that if anyone really wanted to take the time to examine it, he would see that these survival patterns are the basis for our aesthetics, our sense of pleasure." The result is an environment that demonstrates a higher degree of life. Main Street, U.S.A. creates an opportunity for the guest to decompress and to agree to accept a mutually understood pattern of expected behavior. The visit becomes more slowly paced, less stressful, and friendlier. This is not a competitive urban environment but one that projects the idealized image of a different time and place.

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About January 2012

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in January 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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