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July 1, 2013

Jim's Attic: The Park Princess Problem

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

Disney Princesses

My nieces have grown too old for the Disney Princess merchandise and my nephew is still too young to appreciate the charms of a Disney Princess.

Their Uncle Jim, however, spends way too much time thinking about Disney Princesses, especially with the recent induction of Merida from Pixar's animated feature "Brave".

Merida's Royal Celebration

While there has been some controversy surrounding her joining the ranks of this prestigious and profitable group, what concerns me is "Who will dance with Merida?"

Unlike every other Disney Princess that takes to the stage at the Magic Kingdom or rides on a parade float, Merida has no romantic companion. In fact, one of the points of the film is that a princess (or any woman) doesn't need to be married to a prince (or a hero like Mulan's general) to live happily ever after. All of the suitors for the hand of Merida are shown to be ineptly unsuitable in the extreme despite the rules of tradition.

So while all the other princesses are paired up to dance on stage, who will dance with Merida? Her horse? Some nameless hunk in a kilt?

Merida and Angus

The Disney Princess brand was created in 2000 by then Chairman of Disney Consumer Products Andy Mooney. That first year the brand brought in three hundred million dollars in global retail sales but three years later, it was generating close to two billion dollars in yearly sales and that was ten years ago.

Interestingly, Disney Consumer Products has stated "The characters were not chosen specifically for their royal titles, but rather for how well they fit into what Disney executives deemed 'the Princess mythology'."

That may explain why Tinker Bell once had Disney Princess merchandise before becoming the cornerstone of the Disney Fairies brand meant to appeal to little girls who outgrew the princesses.

Merida and Angus

Pocahontas is not a princess, because her tribe never had that designation like some of the Western Plains tribes. At best, her status might be comparable to being the daughter of the President of the United States. (However, Princess Tiger Lily from "Peter Pan" is a true Indian princess but was never included with the other princesses ever.)

Pocahontas

Pocahontas doesn't marry a prince, either, but an Englishman named John Rolfe, both in real life and in the Disney animated sequel. However, on stage, she is paired romantically with John Smith (perhaps because not even the most devoted Disney fan would recognize John Rolfe or remember that in both real and animated life Smith abandoned Pocahontas).

When I asked why Giselle from the film "Enchanted" was not made a Disney Princess, a Disney marketing executive patiently explained that "since she didn't marry the prince in the end of the film, she did not become a princess". I guess it was because she was not considered of royal birth.

Belle is actually not officially a princess either but a "princess consort", a term that refers to when a commoner or someone of a lower status marries into royalty. (Remember it is Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip not King Phillip. He is a prince consort.)

Belle

I guess I just don't understand Disney Princesses but I better figure it out soon since the character of Anna in the new Disney animated feature "Frozen" due to be released in November is a royal princess.

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

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

Jim Korkis

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

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

July 6, 2013

Dayton Disneyana - 2013

Gary Cruise banner

A few of our Canadian pin-trader friends have attended Dayton Disneyana several times and they always describe it in glowing detail. It has always sounded like something Carol would really enjoy; so for several years we have hoped to head to Dayton for this annual event. Alas, too many other things always seemed to intervene. This year we decided early that nothing else should stand in our way.

The Dayton "Plane Crazy" Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club, who host the event annually, describe it as "a Show & Sale of Disneyana Collectibles and Disney Pin Trading Event" but it is actually much more than that. It's more like a convention for Disney fans!

This year's event included two well known speakers; 1) Jim Hill, an award-winning entertainment writer from Boston who written extensively about The Walt Disney Company. 2) Jim Korkis, an internationally respected Disney historian who has written hundreds of articles about all things Disney for over three decades.

Carol and our son Rob both delight in scouring Thrift Shops, Flea Markets, Second Hand Stores and Garage Sales for Disney treasures and they had been looking forward to this trip for months.

I don't share their mania for collectibles, but I'd been hoping for a somewhat different outcome. You see, my sweet, wonderful and loving wife would be celebrating her birthday just a few days after the event. I had been hoping that she could point to an item sometime over the weekend and say, "That's it - that's exactly what I want for my birthday." Actually, there was no doubt in my mind that that particular scene would play out . . . I only wondered how many times it would happen.

We live about two hours east of Toronto, almost exactly mid-way between Toronto and Montreal. The trip to the Wyndham Garden Hotel at Miamisburg Ohio, just south of Dayton, is 606 miles. We would be on the road for at least 9 ½ hours, plus any time we needed for fuel and rest breaks so an early start was mandatory!

Friday June 28, 2013
We were up at zero-dark-thirty and pulled away from home at 5:52 a.m., eight minutes ahead of schedule!

We crossed the Ambassador Bridge from Windsor Ontario into Detroit Michigan at 12:10 p.m. and headed south on Interstate 75.

Ohio_State_Line

At about 12:50 we crossed the Ohio State line and Carol shouted out, "Holy Toledo, I haven't been shopping yet!" We stopped in Toledo and had a quick bite of lunch before Carol and Rob invaded the Disney Store. I waited in the car and read for about a half hour before they returned. We resumed our southward trek on I-75.

We pulled off at Exit 44 in Miamisburg Ohio at 5:30. Aside from a few heavy rain showers the trip was uneventful. We had no traffic troubles.

After stretching our legs for a bit, we unpacked and settled in to our home for the next two nights. Rob's room is just across the courtyard from ours. Soon we hopped back in the car to head out for dinner. We were back "home" by 8:45 and Carol spent some time visiting with friends Susan and Carrie while the chauffeur took a soothing dip in the "not-hot but merely tepid" tub. Aaahh! Even though it was only moderately warm it still felt good. There were no pin traders trading in the lobby so before long Carol joined me for a soak. At about 10:00 we headed back to the room where we read and played on the computer for a while before bed.

Saturday June 29, 2013
The downside to that whole "Early to bed, early to rise" thing is the early rising part. Carol and I were both wide awake before 7:00 a.m. We sat around and wasted an hour before calling friends Susan and Carrie. They met us for breakfast in the hotel at about 8:15.

On the way back to our rooms we picked up tickets for the event which opened at 10:00 a.m. Some people had prepaid an "Early Bird Fee" of $15.00 and were allowed to enter the ballroom at 8:30 and enjoy 90 minutes of shopping before the rest of us were admitted.

Cutting_the_Ribbon

At 10:00 the president of the Dayton Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club cut the ribbon to officially open the show and we rushed through the door and into the ballroom. As we filed in our friend Gabe, who took advantage of early entry, marched out with a huge smile and several large bags! He was obviously a happy collector!

Carol and Rob just didn't know where to start! They were in some sort of Disney heaven and they had difficulty figuring out how to attack the huge mound of treasure facing them.

I wandered up and down the aisles taking pictures of the wide array of Disney merchandise and collectibles. There really was everything from soup to nuts. Wow!

Carol_is_overwhelmed

There were plates and spoons, cups and glasses, clocks and watches. There were comic books, magazines, coloring books, toys, framed pictures, cels, figurines, games and collectibles in varieties too many to mention.

Merchandise

More_Merchandise

A_Goofy_Telephone

Books_and_magazines

Naturally there were pins and vinylmations!

There were movies and movie posters, VHS and DVD videos, LP's, CD's and video games.

A_pin_board

Avid_pin_traders

There were brand new items and there were some dating back to the 1930's. It's really hard to comprehend the variety and diversity of goods on sale. The pictures tell the story though!

Snow_globes

A_train_used_to_display_watches

Collector_plates

Plates_and_mugs

Disneyana Fan Club originated as The National Fantasy Fan Club (NFFC) in 1984 and now has over 25 chapters across the country & around the world.

The Plane Crazy Chapter in Dayton, who host this show, began about 10 years ago as "Pin Trading By The Pond" when a few friends gathered to trade pins beside one of the trader's backyard koi ponds. The next year it grew so much that they had to book a room to house the event. Since then it has grown into a wonderful two day extravaganza for Disney collectors and traders. Last year they hosted over 400 guests.

By the time I had made my first circuit of the room snapping pictures Carol had filled a couple of bags. She and Rob, who also had a bag full, were sporting big smiles. I took the bags to our room and dropped them off, freeing up their hands for more shopping!

Carol_is_an_avid_shopper

I continued to wander, this time taking fewer pictures and allowing plenty of time to admire the merchandise. It was even more amazing when I took time to actually consider what my eyes were seeing. I was nowhere near as excited as Carol and Rob, but I could understand why they were so enthusiastic.

Disneyana_catalogues

Our_friend_Gabe_searches_for_pins

Mickey_Mouse_cream_and_sugar_set

A_view_of_the_ballroom

A_happy_vendor

An_Alice_in_Wonderland_nurse_kit

Mickey_and_Kermit_telephones

The next time I crossed paths with Carol she took my arm and dragged me to a nearby table. Those words I had been expecting rolled off her lips, "That's it - that's exactly what I want for my birthday." I bought the three Disney Classic Collection figurines she pointed out, packed them in the big bag she had partly filled while I was gone, wished her Happy Birthday, and took another big load to the room.

Carol_and_Rob_are_happy_shoppers

When I returned at about 12:30 the pin traders were starting to take their positions at tables in the hallway outside the ballroom. Carrie and I hopped in the car and made a mad dash to a nearby Wendy's restaurant. We were back with lunch for all in our group and I wolfed mine down then ran down the hall (OK . . . it was more of a quick limping shuffle) to listen to the speakers who were beginning their presentations in the atrium at 1:15 p.m.

I arrived just as Jim Korkis was beginning. Jim is an internationally respected Disney Historian who has written hundreds of articles about all things Disney for more than three decades. He is a former Walt Disney World cast member and is now a regular guest blogger on AllEars.

Jim_Korkis

Jim focussed on the classic old Disney movie The Song Of The South which has been removed from the US and Canadian markets for many years. He told a number of interesting and amusing stories about the movie and about his interaction with many of the actors who appeared in it. Jim is passionate about Disney and his zeal is infectious. When he speaks, he grabs your attention and he doesn't let go. If you get a chance to hear Jim speak, do not pass it up!

Jim_Korkis_is_passionate_about_Disney

Next up to the podium was Jim Hill, an award-winning entertainment writer from Boston who written extensively about The Walt Disney Company. He is a very captivating speaker as well.

Jim_Hill

Jim Hill's focus was more "future oriented"; he began by telling us how Disney "dropped the ball" during negotiations with J.K. Rowling. As a result of a fumble by Disney Imagineers The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was built at Universal rather than at Walt Disney World. What a shame!

In Jim's opinion that faux pas led to the big changes and improvements we have seen in Fantasyland. He spoke at length describing the changes will we see at Walt Disney World in years to come.

Jim_Hill

Will Star Wars Land be coming to Florida? Yes! Jim gave us some interesting glimpses of what current plans include.

Will Avatar Land be coming to Florida? Yes! It may take some time to get done, but it is included in current plans.

Will Cars Land be coming to Florida? Yes! It will not include Luigi's Flying Tires - they cannot dig deep enough to install the underground fans needed for the attraction. The water table in Florida is simply too high to allow the necessary excavation.

The two Jims spent over a half hour answering questions from the audience; it was a lively and humorous Q & A session.

Carol and all her pin trading buddies were firmly settled in the hallway outside the ballroom when I returned. I said a quick hello as I passed by, on my way to talk some more with the pair of Jims. They had set up in the ballroom where Jim Korkis was selling copies of his two books. I bought a copy of each and Jim signed (and illustrated) them for me.

Jim_Korkis_and_Jim_Hill

Throughout the day there were silent auctions, door prize draws, children's games and a charity draw for beautiful Disney themed quilt. There was always something interesting going on!

Carol, Rob and the gang continued to trade until almost 6:00 p.m. then took a break for dinner. We had a nice meal at the little restaurant in the hotel; then they went back to the trade tables. They had a good day trading, there were plenty of pins, vinylmations, buttons and even a few Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards changing hands. Everyone seemed happy with their trades when they finally called it quits at 9:45 p.m. These traders sure have a lot of stamina!

Pin_trading

Trading_buttons

Before bed Carol confided that there are still a few more collectibles she has her eye on. I anticipate a few more purchases tomorrow. The doors open at 10:00 a.m. and we plan to get away by about noon to begin our trip home. It's a holiday weekend in Canada and we want to be home for Canada Day celebrations on Monday.

Sunday June 30, 2013
The Sunday schedule was almost an exact duplicate of the Saturday programme. The ballroom full of vendors opened at 10:00 a.m. and the two Jims each made another presentation, with fresh topics, beginning at 1:15 p.m. I thoroughly enjoyed both their presentations on Saturday and I was disappointed that I could not stay to enjoy the second session.

We met Susan and Carrie for breakfast and all of us were waiting outside the ballroom when the doors opened. We had all walked around the tables at least a dozen times on Saturday . . . there shouldn't have been anything new to see . . . but there was! There was just so much merchandise on display that you could not take it all in.

A_Mickey_Mouse_gumball_machine

Disney_building_blocks

Disney_watches

While Carol and Rob shopped, I spent some time chatting with Disneyana Fan Club Dayton Chapter President Gary DesCombes, Disney Fan Club National President Gary Schaengold and his wife Anita who is part of the team of about 18 volunteers who make this great, family friendly event happen year after year.

They passed on some interesting facts. I thought our 606 mile trip from Kingston (500 miles as the crow flies) was a long journey, but it is nothing compared to some others. This year there were guests from as far away as Chicago and North Carolina, as the crow flies they are 225 miles and 500 miles distant respectively. We are about tied with the North Carolina folks for this year's distance record! But we pale in comparison with the group of 12 who attended from California last year and the lady who has flown in from Japan to attend, not once but twice!

Some of the vendors travel long distances to the show as well. Theme Park Connection of Winter Garden Florida hauled a truckload of goods about 775 miles from their store just north of Walt Disney World.

Carol had planned to take a quick lap of the ballroom to pick up those last few items she mentioned the previous night, then settle in for some trading in the hallway. Two hours later she and Rob were still in the ballroom. Some of the merchandise had been marked down . . . I suppose it's easier to sell it than it is to pack it up and take it back home.

There was plenty of haggling going on; prices seemed to be more flexible as the end of the weekend drew nearer!

Rob_makes_a_final_purchase

Vinylmations

Two representatives from PinPics.com, Anthony and Samantha Medina, arrived about noon and spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with the many avid pin traders in the crowd. I spent a few minutes yakking with Samantha and then began the difficult task of dragging Carol and Rob away from the vendor's tables.

Samantha_from_PinPics

Carol made a few very quick pin trades before we hopped in the car to begin our trek home. We pulled onto northbound Interstate 75 at 12:40 p.m. Traffic was moving very well, there was hardly a slowdown, even in Detroit. We crossed the Ambassador Bridge and returned to "Our Home And Native Land" at 5:00 p.m.

Back_home_in_Canada

Traffic in Canada was also lighter than we anticipated and we made great time. There were a few very quick stops for fuel and coffee and we arrived home at 10:30, about 90 minutes earlier than we had expected. We were tired after a long day on the road but Carol and Rob were still all pumped up about the event and the treasures they found!

They agreed that it's an event we will definitely return to. Because of the distance it may not be an annual event, but we will definitely attend periodically.

Here are the treasures Carol brought home.

Carol's_treasures

Her most cherished "find" is this Olszewski figurine which Rob picked up in the silent auction.

A_valuable_Olszewski_figurine

Rob had a pretty nice pile of loot too!

Rob's_loot

His favourite is this Fantasia themed Mickey Mouse clock. We added a fresh battery and it's ticking away!

A_Fantasia_clock

If you are an avid Disney fan and a collector of Disneyana then Dayton Disneyana should be on your to-do list. Next year's event is tentatively planned for Father's Day weekend, June 14 - 15, 2014. These dates are not yet firm, check the Disneyana Fan Club web site before finalizing your plans.

The National web site is HERE.

The Plane Crazy Chapter site is HERE.

Like them on Facebook HERE.

What will you find if you attend? We were pleasantly surprised by the attractive hotel rates, $81.00 a night in 2013. The event registration was a mere $5.00 for a 2 day adult pass, or $3.00 for a 1 day pass. The merchandise was varied, plentiful and good quality. This is not a flea market and the vendors are not selling junk and trinkets.

The vendors are friendly, approachable and most are die-hard Disney fans just like you and I. Of course all of the other attendees are kindred Disney spirits too. It's a totally immersive experience and you will feel right at home, we sure did!

Maybe Carol and I will see you there some day?


July 9, 2013

Kona Cafe: More Than Just Tonga Toast

Andrew Rossi

When it comes to breakfast at Disney World, the Kona Café at the Polynesian Resort is one of my personal favorites. With mouthwatering offering such as their Macadamia-Pineapple Pancakes and Tonga Toast, it is no surprise that Kona Café is an incredibly popular dining location and is typically packed each and every morning. For all the hype it receives for breakfast, however, I had heard far less about what the dining experience is like at Kona Café for lunch or dinner. Since most visitors to Disney World are typically out and about in the parks during the middle of the day, many of the restaurants at the resorts tend to be overlooked. Therefore, I was very intrigued to see if lunch at Kona Café lived up to the outstanding meals I have had there for breakfast.

Kona_Signage

Kona_Entrance

Overview:
Disney's Polynesian Resort has always been one of my favorites. The resort's quiet and tranquil South Seas feel completely makes you forget that you are just a short Monorail ride from the Magic Kingdom. Whether lying on the beach or by the pool, the Polynesian is the perfect spot to relax and unwind.

Kona_Lobby

This resort is also a great place to go to have something to eat. Not only does the Polynesian feature one of the most popular restaurants in all of Disney World, Ohana, but also the family-friendly and entertaining Spirit of Aloha Polynesian Luau. It is easy to see how Kona Café might get overlooked by its two better-known counterparts. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Kona Café is a great dining option any time of day and offers a calm, quiet meal in a casual and relaxed setting. This makes Kona Café the perfect escape from all the hustle and bustle of the theme parks.

Atmosphere:
One of the most striking features of Kona Café is its sense of openness. Located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House, the Kona Café overlooks the resort's lobby, featuring ample sunlight pouring in from the glass ceiling above and even a glimpse of the plants, flowers, and fountains on the floor below.

Kona_Lobby_View

With the restaurant being so open, one might think that it would be noisy with many Guests passing by as they make their way into and out of the resort. This, however, is not the case. Despite its large, open feel, the restaurant's dining room is actually fairly small, creating a more intimate setting in which to enjoy your meal.

Kona_Dining_Room1

The restaurant's color palette of red, orange, and yellow make for a very warm and inviting atmosphere.

Kona_Dining_Room2

This is aided by large windows that, during the day, help to bathe the dining room in natural light.

Kona_Window

The atmosphere of the restaurant is one that is casual and laid-back, reflective of its Hawaiian and South Seas theming. This theming is carried on in subtle ways throughout the dining room. Along the walls are numerous carvings and masks highlighting the skill and craftsmanship of Polynesian artists.

Kona_Art1

Kona_Art2

The tropical theme is carried farther with carpeting that features a motif of large, colorful flowers and palm fronds.

Kona_Carpet

Even the light fixtures overhead lend to the exotic, tropical feel.

Kona_Lighting

The Kona Café thus continues the overall feel of the resort. Just as the Polynesian provides a relaxing escape for those Guests staying at the resort, so too does the Kona Café during the course of your meal. It's casual feel makes the restaurant a great option for families with children while its quiet atmosphere and smaller size help create a more intimate setting that also make it a good option for adults and couples as well.

One of the best things about the Kona Café is its easy accessibility. Located right on the Magic Kingdom Monorail line, the Polynesian Resort is easily accessible from almost anywhere on Disney property. It is thus somewhat surprising that the restaurant is not more crowded during its lunch and dinner hours, but I think this adds to its allure. It is a restaurant to which you can go, especially for lunch, to escape from the crowds and just relax, unwind, and reenergize.

The Menu:
The Kona Café's lunch menu is surprisingly extensive and offers a variety of unique offerings highlighting Hawaiian cuisine with a bit of an Asian flair.

For appetizers there is the Grilled Beef Satay ($9.99), skewers of marinated beef served with bulgogi sauce, Lump Crab Cakes ($11.49) with a jalapeno-lime cream, Fried Rock Shrimp ($14.99) with a passion fruit-mustard sauce, Thai-Spiced Watermelon Soup ($6.99), Spinach Salad ($10.49) with heirloom tomatoes and duck prosciutto, Sticky Wings ($8.99) glazed with a tangy mustard drizzle and toasted sesame seeds, Pot Stickers ($7.49) topped with a creamy ginger-soy sauce, and the Kona Salad ($8.49) featuring mixed greens, blue cheese, fresh fruit, red onions, and smoked almonds with a citrus vinaigrette.

The lunch menu's entrée offerings are more on the lighter side, featuring a variety of sandwiches, which are far different from the entrees on the dinner menu. For lunch there is also the Polynesian Plate Lunch ($14.99) featuring either Pan-Fried Chicken with Coconut and Mango Sauces or Grilled Teriyaki Steak with Grilled Pineapple Salsa served with sticky rice and pasta salad. Other lunch entrees include Fish Tacos ($14.99) topped with tomato salsa and mango mayonnaise, Barbecue Pork Tacos ($11.99) with pulled pork, tomato salsa, and jalapeno-lime sour cream $11.99, Pan Asian Noodles with wok-seared vegetables and your choice of Chicken in ginger-garlic sauce ($16.99) or with Shrimp ($17.99), a Grilled Steak Salad ($15.99) with mixed greens and a cashew lime vinaigrette, and the Asian Noodle Bowl ($14.99) with spiced beef broth, strip steak, Asian vegetables, and rice noodles.

As for the aforementioned sandwiches, there are several including the Grilled Ahi Tuna Sandwich ($13.49) served on pineapple bread, the Kona Turkey Sandwich ($11.99) served on house-made bread with caramelized onion, purple-haze hoisin mayonnaise, arugula, tomato and bacon, the Kona Surf and Turf Burger Deluxe ($15.49) topped with spicy fried shrimp and black garlic aioli, and the Island Chicken Sandwich ($13.99) featuring grilled chicken breast with bacon, Swiss cheese, curry-mango mayonnaise, and fried onions on a kaiser roll.

For dinner the menu becomes a little more upscale with heartier options such as Grilled Lamb Chops ($24.99) with roasted root vegetables, swiss chard, and mango chutney, Kona Coffee-Rubbed Pork Chop ($21.99) grilled and served with mashed sweet potatoes and seasonal vegetables, Pan Seared Duck Breast ($21.99) served with cranberry beans, chorizo sausage, and spinach in a tamarind sauce, Teriyaki Style New York Strip ($28.99) grilled with a pineapple teriyaki glaze and served with sticky rice and stir-fried broccolini, and Sesame Seared Sea Scallops ($18.99).

The dessert choices are the same for both lunch and dinner and include a White Chocolate Cheesecake ($5.49) topped with strawberry coulis and whipped cream, the Kilauea Torte ($5.49), a No Sugar Added Apple Stacker ($6.49) featuring crisp cinnamon won tons served with vanilla ice cream, Banana-Chocolate Creme Brulee ($5.99), Chocolate Fondue ($6.99), Pineapple Upside Down Cake ($5.99), and the Kona Kone ($5.99), which is Kona Café's special ice cream sundae served in a waffle cone surrounded by cotton candy.

For my lunch I decided on the Island Chicken Sandwich. What struck me most about this sandwich was not only is massive size piled high with toppings, but also the intricate combination of flavors that all blended together so well. The chicken breast itself was moist and tender. Along with that came Swiss cheese and bacon that provided a hint of smokiness. There was also the light and refreshing taste of lettuce and tomato, but it was the two final components of the sandwich that really made it special.

Kona_Island_Chicken

First were the fried onions whose crispiness and bold flavor really made them stand out. Finally, the sandwich was topped with a curry-mango mayonnaise that helped give the sandwich its unique, tropical-inspired taste. The combination of curry and mango at the same time added a slight sweetness to the sandwich while also providing a little extra kick, but I did not find the curry flavor to be so overwhelming as to detract from the other flavors. In fact, that is really what made the sandwich so enjoyable because all these various flavors combined together so well. The sandwich came served alongside a generous portion of sweet potato fries. These were a fresh and flavorful alternative to typical French fries that also help to tie in better with the restaurant's overall South Seas/Hawaiian feel.

As good as that sandwich was, it was dessert that absolutely blew me away. After some debate I ended up choosing the Kilauea Torte. This chocolate cake with a warm chocolate center is a very rich, decadent, filling dessert, but you will want to eat the entire thing. The warm chocolate comes oozing out as you cut into the cake. The whipped cream and vanilla ice cream that accompany the torte provide a light and refreshing contrast that pair perfectly with so much rich, chocolaty flavor. I would not hesitate to say that this has become one of my favorite desserts in any Disney restaurant.

Kona_Torte

Service:
I found the service at Kona Café to be as equally impressive as the food. After finding out that I had never been to the restaurant for lunch, my server began to provide detailed descriptions of several menu items, pointing out which were the most popular and which were some of her personal favorites. Throughout the course of my meal my server was constantly checking in on me to ensure that I was enjoying everything. The meal progressed at a calm, relaxing pace so I did not feel as if I was being rushed at all.

When it was time for dessert, my server explained that they were making the tortes fresh in the oven and it would be just a few extra minutes. Not in a rush, I told her that it was no problem at all. When my server brought me my bill at the end of the meal she informed me that I would not be charged for the dessert since it took so long, even though in reality it was just a few extra minutes of waiting and posed no real inconvenience. This is just an example of the type of service that sets Disney dining apart. No matter what the restaurant or dining experience I continue to find dedicated Cast Members who really go above and beyond creating magic for their Guests. The service I received at Kona Café made an already good meal even better, and that would have still held true even if I had not gotten a complimentary dessert.

Dining on a Budget:
Lunch at the Kona Café is a great option if you are looking for a high quality meal at an affordable price. The sandwiches range in price from $11.99 to $15.49 and even the non-sandwich menu items are reasonably priced by Disney standards. There are the Fish Tacos for $14.99, the Barbeque Pork Tacos for $11.99, and an especially good value is the Polynesian Plate Lunch for $14.99. This is probably the best way to get the most bang-for-your-buck as you get to choose either the pan-fried chicken with coconut and mango sauces or the grilled teriyaki steak with grilled pineapple salsa and each come accompanied by both sticky rice and pasta salad. I would definitely recommend lunch over dinner at Kona Café if you are dining on a budget as the menu offerings at night are slightly more pricey.

The Kona Café is on the Disney Dining Plan and is one table service credit for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you are on the dining plan, you would definitely get more value if dining here for dinner as opposed to breakfast or lunch. Kona Café also participates in Tables in Wonderland and members can receive a 20% discount. There are no further discounts for Annual Passholders or Disney Vacation Club members.

The Overall Experience:
Kona Café has always been one of my favorite Disney restaurants for breakfast, but it has now become one of my favorite dining locations for lunch as well. The restaurant's quiet, casual, relaxed setting make it the perfect escape and yet it is just a short Monorail ride from the Magic Kingdom. With such easy accessibility I am actually surprised it is not more crowded during its lunchtime hours, but that is part of the restaurant's appeal. With reservations at Ohana so hard to come by and with the popularity of the Spirit of Aloha Polynesian Luau, the Kona Café offers a great alternative that you don't necessarily need to book months in advance while still giving you the same South Seas-inspiried feel. I strongly recommend Kona Café to anyone staying at the Polynesian Resort. Even for those who are not, it is worth the short trip over from Magic Kingdom. Even though it took me a while before I tried lunch here for the first time, it will certainly not be that long until I am back again.

See past restaurant reviews by guest blogger Andrew Rossi.

Check out Reader Reviews of Kona Cafe and post your own too!


July 15, 2013

Jim’s Attic: Where in the World is Abraham Lincoln?

By Jim Korkis

Every two weeks, Disney Historian Jim Korkis goes up into his imaginary attic to rummage around his archives and often stumbles across an unusual story about Walt Disney World.
In 1909, there was a huge celebration for President Abraham Lincoln's one-hundredth birthday from parades to hundreds of bronze plaques with The Gettysburg Address installed in schools to much oratory in local auditoriums to a special edition of the newspaper The Chicago Tribune that weighed over three pounds. That year the Lincoln penny was issued for the first time.

Caught up in all the hoopla was a young Missouri boy who roughly a year later transferred to Benton Elementary School in Kansas City. In the fifth grade, he dressed up as the 16th president by borrowing his father's old frock coat, making a stovepipe hat out of cardboard and black shoe polish, wearing a crepe hair beard and not forgetting Lincoln's mole, astounded his classmates and the school principal with his dramatic recitation of The Gettysburg Address.

Principal Cottingham took young Walt Disney to every classroom to repeat his performance and every subsequent Lincoln's birthday in February until Walt's graduation.

Walt had planned for his boyhood hero to be a part of Disneyland.

Imagineer Wathel Rogers stated in 1963, "Lincoln is part of a Disneyland project called 'One Nation Under God'. (A curtain) will open to reveal the Hall of Presidents. The visitor will see all the Chief Executives modeled life-size. He'll think it's a waxworks-until Lincoln stands up and begins to talk."

However, technology and finances only permitted Lincoln to be built for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair and only after Walt appeared at a press conference in Springfield, Illinois on November 19, 1963 to assure the concerned citizens that he was not going to "cartoonize" Lincoln.

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"Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" was installed at Disneyland on July 18, 1965 and the expanded "Hall of Presidents" opened at the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971.

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Amazingly, many WDW guests show up at Epcot's American Adventure Pavilion assuming that the Lincoln audio-animatronics figure will be there. However, Imagineers figured he was already well represented at the Magic Kingdom.

However, from September of 2007 through early this year, the American Heritage Gallery in the lobby of the "American Adventure" featured a special National Treasures exhibit.

Jim Clark, one of the team members who designed the exhibit stated in 2007, "You'll see one of Abraham Lincoln's actual stovepipe hats, which has never been publicly exhibited outside of the Lincoln Family Home in Manchester, Vermont.

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"We're also presenting many of Lincoln's personal items, like the book of Lord Byron poetry that inspired his second inaugural address, and his dressing room mirror-where he probably took his last glimpse of himself before he went off to Ford's Theater."


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A new exhibit is now in the location: "Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection". Another reminder that things change constantly and suddenly at Disney theme parks so don't take things for granted.

At Disney Hollywood Studios, in the "One Man's Dream" attraction, you can find a brief mention on a placard about young Walt dressing up as Lincoln (but don't be fooled by the blown up photo on the wall - that's Walt and his best friend Walter Pfeiffer dressed up for one of their vaudeville comedy routines, not Walt as Lincoln).

Further into the exhibit is one of the audio-animatronics shells for the Lincoln figure. If the face looks amazing, it is because that sculptor Blaine Gibson used an 1860 life mask of Lincoln for reference but had to enlarge it slightly in order to accommodate the mechanics inside the skull.

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So, the late U.S. President who inspired Walt Disney for his entire life pops up quite prominently at Walt Disney World.

RELATED LINKS
====================
Read about Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at Disneyland

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

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

Jim Korkis

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

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

July 16, 2013

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler: July 2013

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

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

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

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

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

http://allears.net/ae/mb071513.pdf

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

This month's puzzle starts a series on theme park attractions. Of course, we start with the Magic Kingdom! These puzzles shouldn't be too difficult, even without a word bank.

As always, we want you to have fun with this puzzle. BUT if you want a chance at a Disney collectible pin, arrange the letters that are circled in the puzzle to come up with the answer to the bonus question, which relates to the puzzle theme.

Send your resulting answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com

Send the bonus term or phrase by email no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on August 4, 2013. 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-August.

GOOD LUCK!

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

JUNE SOLUTION:

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

http://allears.net/ae/mb061513-key.pdf

As many of you knew (and 106 of you did!), the name of the river that "flows in a circle" was the Chakranadi River, which can be found on the Kali River Rapids, located in Asia in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The winner of a Mickey & Minnie pin was Pamela VanAustin of Robertsdale, AL.

We hope you enjoy this Mousy Mindboggler, and we welcome any comments or suggestions.

Thanks for playing!

July 20, 2013

Food and Wine FastPass ??

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Although the 2013 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is still some two months away I've been thinking about an idea that I think would be a win-win situation for both the Walt Disney World Resort and its guests.

At the Food & Wine Welcome Center...

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...you can purchase special Food & Wine Gift Cards.

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When you purchase these cards you can place a certain amount of cash value on them. You can wear them on your wrist and when you visit one of the booths you just get it swiped rather than fiddle with plastic or cash. It's a great convenience.

What was not a great convenience during the 2012 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival were the incredible long lines....especially on the weekends.

I happened to sneak down to F&W a few times and noticed that the crowds on the weekends were extremely high...more so than during the week as locals would partake of the tasty treats waiting for them.

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One Saturday in particular I counted 85 people waiting in line in Mexico for shrimp tacos.

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That made me think of possible solutions to these long lines...something that would work for the resort and also for the guests.

Introducing the Food & Wine FastPass.

It's very simple. Why not offer the guests a GOLD Food & Wine card...similar to the normal ones except that this particular special card allows you to go into a special line at each kiosk, a line that offers you a shorter wait.

This would work as a win-win situation for both the resort and for the guests. The resort would benefit from a revenue stream as the guests would have to pay for this privilege with either an upfront surcharge or adding 5% to the cost of whatever purchase they would be making at a kiosk. To help encourage guests to purchase such a card there would be an added benefit.

For every ten purchases made with this special FastPass F&W card the guest would receive a FREE purchase. So let's say you spent the entire day at EPCOT for F&W and were trying all the booths and holy cow you go to one booth and they tell you that this one is on the house.

Would you go for it?

My point is that F&W has become so popular that you might say it is TOO popular for everyone to enjoy themselves.

So putting a little carrot out there like this F&W Gold Festival card may help shorten the wait for some folks while at the same time offering a free bee from time to time.

Thoughts?

July 22, 2013

Disney’s Oldest Parade - Electrical Water Pageant

Gary Cruise banner

Walt Disney World has plenty of parades. The Magic Kingdom currently has the "Celebrate A Dream Come True" parade every afternoon at 3:00 and the "Main Street Electrical Parade" at 9:00 and 11:00. Disney's Animal Kingdom features the "Jammin' Jungle Parade" at 3:45

Over the years there have been many themed parades at each of the Disney parks but the undisputed grand-daddy of all parades is the Electrical Water Pageant which sails the waters of Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon. It has been running every night (weather permitting) since October 26, 1971. There have been a few subtle changes over the past 42 years, but it is still as captivating as it was the first time I watched it in 1977.

One of our favourite ways to end our day at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground is to head to the beach and watch the nightly performance of the Electrical Water Pageant.

We try to arrive a bit early, find a comfy seat on the patio beside the marina and wait until those tell-tale green lights begin to appear. The 14 barges which provide the show run very quietly. They are nearly invisible, with only their running lights to reveal their approach. Then once they are in position the show begins with a fanfare of techno music and all those wonderful lights reflecting off Bay Lake.

The first four barges all light up their 40 foot long and 25 foot high displays at once and portray the image of a sea serpent accompanied by "Boo Bop Bopbop Bop (I Love You Too)" from Pete's Dragon.

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Soon the next float comes alive with the image of a spouting whale as you listen to "Whale of a Tale" from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

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Floats six and seven feature a turtle bobbing its head under water and an octopus, also accompanied by lively music generated by the 800 watt sound system.

Soon the first three floats in the second string light up to reveal three jumping dolphins, followed in turn by a Brachiosaurus, a crocodile, four seahorses and finally King Triton. By the time all 14 floats are illuminated there are over 50,000 lights involved in the animated panorama. WOW!

Dolphins

King_Triton

Then, just when you think it's all over, the grand finale begins. It's an inspirational salute to America, with Flags and Stars set to a patriotic musical medley of God Bless America, Yankee Doodle, and You're a Grand Old Flag.

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You don't even have to spend money on park admission to enjoy the Electrical Water Pageant.

It sails past the beach at every Disney resort on Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon. The normal schedule is:
• 9:00 p.m. - Polynesian Resort
• 9:15 p.m. - Grand Floridian
• 9:35 p.m. - Wilderness Lodge
• 9:45 p.m. - Fort Wilderness
• 10:05 p.m. - Contemporary Resort
• 10:20 p.m. - Magic Kingdom (only when MK is open past 10:00 p.m.)

The Electrical Water Pageant is an often overlooked feature at Walt Disney World and it truly is a hidden gem. Plan to watch it from the beach at one of the resorts soon. With a little planning you might even see the Wishes fireworks spectacular reflecting off the water before or after the pageant. Check with Guest Services at your resort to confirm exact show times.

If you watch it from the Polynesian Resort I recommend a stop at Captain Cook's on the way. Pick up a cool Dole Whip to enjoy as you sit on the beach enjoying the show. If you watch from Fort Wilderness, take a look around, you may just see Carol and I on the patio beside the marina!

July 29, 2013

Jim’s Attic: Bits of Disneyland

By Jim Korkis

Every two weeks, Disney Historian Jim Korkis goes up into his imaginary attic to rummage around his archives and often stumbles across an unusual story about Walt Disney World.

Having grown up in the Southern California area and visiting Disneyland many, many times a year, it was quite a "Twilight Zone"-like experience to enter the Magic Kingdom for the first time. While there were areas that seemed similar to what was at Disneyland, the differences were more pronounced than the similarities.

Where was New Orleans Square and why was there no fort for me to enter Frontierland? Where was Pinocchio's Daring Adventure and America Sings?

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What was this Liberty Square place and who were those talking birds in the queue for the Enchanted Tiki Room?

Interestingly, some actual objects from Disneyland over the years did make the journey to its East Coast cousin.

In fact, some rather large objects made their way thanks to some problems with getting Disney Animal Kingdom ready to open in 1996.

As many Disney fans know, Disney Animal Kingdom was meant to include areas devoted to animals real, imaginary and extinct. Early guest surveys showed people so eager to see a dragon or a unicorn up close in the Beastly Kingdom, that the Disney Company was greatly encouraged that building the park was a great idea.

However, as the "real" section went over budget since the care and feeding of animals had been under-estimated among other reasons, the Beastly Kingdom disappeared and the Imagineers at the direction of CEO Michael Eisner rushed to put in a temporary place-holder area, like Mickey's Birthdayland, called Camp Minnie-Mickey.

One of the fastest and least expensive things to add to an area is live entertainment and it is also the easiest to remove. Two temporary shows were created, "Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends" and "Festival of the Lion King", that were expected to last about a year or two until the Beastly Kingdom could be revived for the second phase of the park. Both shows opened April 1998.

However, there was a severely limited budget so it was necessary to purchase some already built items from Disneyland that were going into storage or about to be destroyed.

For the "Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends" show a large impressive Grandmother Willow figure from Disneyland's live action show, "The Spirit of Pocahontas" that closed in the Fall of 1997 was incorporated. While many fans think it was an expensive audio-animatronics prop, it was actually designed to be manipulated by a puppeteer just like the little Sprig character. The process was dubbed "Puppetronics".

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In "The Festival of the Lion King", the impressive floats that serve as intriguing set pieces are actually recycled from The Lion King Celebration parade that ran at Disneyland from 1994-1997. The parade featured six floats but only four were utilized for "The Festival of the Lion King".

However, the floats did undergo some slight modifications. For instance, the last float in the parade, Pride Rock, has Simba standing atop the rock while Nala is down below to his right at the foot of the float beating out a rhythm with her paws on the drums. Mufasa's face is represented on the spinning sun design up above.

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Both Nala and Mufasa were removed from the float before it was used in the stage show.

None of these items were free. The Disney Company has different business units and so these things had to be purchased so that a business unit could balance its books. Also shipping the items from the West Coast to the East Coast incurred expenses as well.

However, for Disneyland fans who long for a little reminder of that park, there are actual bits and pieces scattered throughout the WDW parks.

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

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

Jim Korkis

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

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

Return to Blog Central

About July 2013

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in July 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2013 is the previous archive.

August 2013 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.