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August 4, 2013

Disney Rituals

Gary Cruise banner

When Carol and I visit Walt Disney World there are plenty of little rituals during the trip, quirky things which add to the fantasy and add to our enjoyment!

If we are travelling south in our motor home we are always vigilant, looking to spot our first palm tree - a sign that we are truly in the south. We always stop at the Florida Welcome Centre for a complimentary orange juice, a taste of Florida sunshine. One day we arrived very early and we were so disappointed to discover that they don't open until 8:00 a.m.

We try to arrive at Fort Wilderness before noon. This allows us to register before the 1:00 p.m. check-in time and then head to Downtown Disney for lunch at Earl of Sandwich. Yum! Usually our camp site is ready by the time lunch is over. Little things like this are all part of the magic we experience every trip.

The most meaningful ritual for us, the time the magic truly begins, is when we take that first walk down Main Street USA. Carol normally likes to shop her way along one side of the street as we enter the park, and then shop the other side as we leave. But on our first visit to the Magic Kingdom it's always different. There's no shopping. We take a slow walk right down the middle of the street, just soaking up the sights and sounds. The flags in Town Square, the vendors with all those balloons, the clang clang of the trolley, the turn of the century architecture, the store windows, the aroma from the Bakery, the smell of Casey's hot dogs and so much more. It's sensory overload for us. By the time we get to the Partners statue, with Cinderella Castle in the background, we have left reality behind. We are in our happy place!


Those are just a few of our rituals . . .

A few weeks ago I sent an e-mail, posing several questions, to a number of people who have commented on my previous AllEars blogs and to people who have added comments to the guest book on our personal blog site. One of the questions was, "Do you have a Disney ritual or tradition?"

There were some very interesting responses. Here are a few:

From Penny W. of Vermont: When I first arrive, I always go to the Magic Kingdom first. Just that walk down Main Street gets me in the magical mood. I must do Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Tiki Room (I love the rainstorm) and have a Dole Whip. There . . . now I can enjoy the rest of my trip.

From Pam T. of Lansdale, PA: When we get into Magic Kingdom, on the first day we arrive, we head straight back to It's a Small World as our first ride, every time we go. Of course, Mommy has to stop crying for us to get on the ride! I cry every time we see Cinderella Castle when we first get there, I start bawling like those old videos of when people would see Elvis for the first time!

From Kelley G. of Staunton VA: Our first ritual really begins before we even cross onto WDW property! When we can see the archway that goes over the highway that welcomes us to Disney, we start a countdown. It gets louder and louder . . . 10, 9, 8 . . . until we are under the sign and then the screaming begins!


My husband just closes his ears as we scream and laugh!

We camp at Fort Wilderness with an occasional stay at a hotel on-property. When we camp it is our tradition to get pizza that first night and then head to the beach and watch the water parade. Just a good way to wind down after a travel day and setting up camp.

From Allison J. of Deland FL: I think the closest thing we have that is a tradition is getting a "Mickey Ice Cream" a.k.a. a Mickey Premium Bar. The funny thing is, my happy memory tied to this ice cream really doesn't have anything to do with the theme parks. I grew up in Virginia and I remember one summer when my Mom bought a box of ice cream bars shaped like Mickey. They were vanilla ice cream with chocolate ice cream making up the ears, eyes, and mouth, so they were not even the traditional Mickey Bars that they sell in the parks now. Even so, getting a Mickey Ice Cream in the parks always takes me back to that summer - running around in the backyard with my friends, catching fireflies when the sun went down . . . all those small little childhood memories that, looking back, mean even more than they did in the moment. I guess it makes sense - Disney makes you feel like a kid again, it seems fitting to have a snack that makes me feel the same way.

From Kameo C. of El Mirage AZ: When we go to Walt Disney World, our tradition is ALWAYS to go see fireworks at Magic Kingdom the first night. They always put us in the Disney spirit and we never miss them. There is something so magical about hearing those amazing songs we grew up with and seeing Tinker Bell soar high across the sky. There is nothing in this world like it! We have teenagers so magic can sometimes be limited in their eyes but Walt Disney World helps bring out the joy and spirit they had as children and now mask.

From Jeff B. of Florida NY: We have a little ritual that we've done the past four trips to Walt Disney World in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2012. It's something that started out just as a nice picture in 2006 when my daughter, Isabel, 7 years old at the time, and I posed for a picture in front of the sign at the Carousel of Progress.


When we returned in 2009, I had my wife take a picture of Isabel and I in the same place.


In 2010, as we neared the end of our vacation it dawned on us we hadn't taken this visit's picture. We made a special trip to the Magic Kingdom just to take the shot so in 2012 we made sure we took the picture the first time we were in Tomorrowland.



Having my wife take this picture of our daughter and me is special to us since I'm usually the one taking the pictures, so . . . it's great to watch her grow up through the trips/years (though seeing less of my hair is no fun!). It's a shame that Disney stopped putting the year on the Carousel sign - it definitely added to the pictures.

Jeff's story reminded me of our good friend Dave C. from Green Island, NY (some of you know him as Tagrel) who has a similar ritual: Here's the story in Dave's words: We started taking a special series of pictures completely by accident with our daughter Brinn. After returning from our first two trips (1998 & 2000) I found I had taken two pictures of Brinn in the same place and pose. Now a SMART Disney fan would have chosen a Disney icon for this, but luckily that little green Rainforest Café frog has been there every year waiting for us! In 2001 our second daughter Maddy became part of the ritual. Every year we would pose in front of that Rainforest Café frog - it's been a great tradition. It just so happens that when Gary asked me about the pictures, the girls were at Disney for a couple weeks and took this year's picture - sadly - without me. But I was definitely there in spirit and very glad the tradition lives on.

Dave and Brinn - 1998

Dave and Maddy - 2001

Dave and Brinn 2005

Dave and Maddy 2006

Dave and Maddy 2010

Dave and Brinn 2011

Brinn 2013

Maddy 2013

From Hilary S. of St. Louis, MO: I have a few Walt Disney World traditions, most of which I do every single time I am there. The most near and dear to my heart is to stop for just a moment outside the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, preferably after dark, and take it all in. When I graduated high school in 1991, my parents asked where I wanted to go that summer. I immediately said Walt Disney World, we'd been twice before but had never stayed onsite and had never tried to do it all. Well, this trip we did -- and more! We stayed at the Disney Inn and loved it. I'm so glad we got to experience it before it became Shades of Green. Especially my Dad and I, we were just in awe and loved every minute of our time at Walt Disney World. I specifically remember standing next to him outside the MK one night and just being totally and completely happy. I have never forgotten that moment. Dad passed away unexpectedly in 2005 and every single time I'm there I recreate the moment and think of him. It makes me appreciate the magic that is Walt Disney World, makes me feel connected to Dad and makes me so thankful for our wonderful relationship.

Those are just a few highlights from the e-mails I received. It seems to me that we all have unique little rituals that play out when we arrive at our happy place . . . traditions that have a very special meaning to us and our families. But in spite of the wide diversity in our individual rituals, they all have one thing in common. Each and every one of these rituals makes our vacations memorable and magical. Just as Walt would have wanted it!

What is your Disney ritual?

August 12, 2013

Jim’s Attic: The Only Magic Kingdom Comic Book

Jim's Attic: The Only Magic Kingdom Comic Book
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.
I was an avid comic book collector. I still have boxes and boxes filled with Disney comic books that I enjoy reading on rainy days.

Western Printing and Lithographing was the parent company of Whitman Publishing and Simon & Schuster, Inc. and had the exclusive book rights to all the Walt Disney characters beginning in 1933. Over the decades they used these characters in coloring books, sticker books, storybooks, Little Golden Books, games, puzzles and more including comic books released through Dell Publishing from 1940 to 1962 when Western took over producing their own comic book line and called it "Gold Key".


Western Publishing invested $200,000 to the building of Disneyland for a total ownership of 13.8% in the new theme park. Western produced the guide maps, brochures, menus, premiums and more for Disneyland. They even had their own shop (the Arcade Bookstore) inside the Crystal Arcade behind the Upjohn Pharmacy that was stocked with Disney related books including comics on Disneyland's opening day.

Between 1955 and 1960, Dell produced ten special Disneyland Giant comic books containing nearly a thousand pages of new, original content of Mickey Mouse and the gang visiting the Happiest Place on Earth.

However, just like re-purchasing ABC's investment, the Disney Company bought back Western's investment at a premium price by 1960 as well.

Western continued to produce the regular profitable Disney comic books but there seemed to be no urgency to create any more comic book stories about Disneyland to help support Western's investment in the park.

In the late Sixties, comic books (because of their small profit to retailers compared with magazines) were having difficulties finding distribution outlets. Gold Key tried several different formats including oversized comics, three comics bundled in a plastic bag, squarebound paperback comic book collections, and the digest format.

The digest format had proven a gold mine for Archie Publications since the smaller size could be displayed near the checkout cash register at supermarkets like issues of TV Guide for an impulse purchase and primarily, the contents relied on reprinted material saving on production costs.

Walt Disney Comics Digest was published for 57 issues from 1968 to 1976. The contents consisted (with few exceptions) mainly of reprints from the various previously published licensed Disney comics. In the beginning, the issues were about 192 pages in length.

Walt Disney World fans should be on the lookout for issue number 32 dated December 1971 although it was available in October. It is the only comic book that has the Disney characters exploring the newly opened Magic Kingdom in Florida.


For the reprinted stories (re-using a Fantasyland story from a previous comic for instance) a new opening splash page was drawn by well known Disney comics artist Tony Strobl (with the realistic backgrounds most likely done by artist Dan Spiegle who drew some of the more realistic live action Disney comic book adaptations).


The book is filled with new and reprinted game pages and puzzles as well. There were two original stories. One featured Scrooge McDuck going back to the Main Street of his youth drawn by Disney comics artist Pete Alvarado. Alvarado also drew a nineteen page Frontierland story where Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck go to enjoy the Country Bear Jamboree except three of the bears (Ernest, Big Al and Teddi Barra) have disappeared and must be found for the show to go on. This is the only comic book appearance of these beloved audio-animatronics characters.


So, for the WDW collector who thinks he has just about everything in his book collection, here is a little "hidden treasure" waiting to be re-discovered.

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

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":

August 16, 2013

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler: August 2013



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:


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

Continuing this month with the theme park attractions theme, we take a look at Epcot. These puzzles shouldn't be too difficult, even without a word bank.

The object is of course to have fun, BUT if you want a chance to win 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 September 7, 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-September.




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


There were 98 correct entries this month with the name of the new Fantasyland roller coaster debuting next year: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This is the first coaster to be built at Walt Disney World since the Rock 'n Roller Coaster opened in 1999.

The winner of a Pluto pin was Ashley E. of Macomb, MI.

Thanks for playing!

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

Thanks for playing!

August 18, 2013

Getting ready for the Annual EPCOT Trade Celebration

Carol Cruise banner

This year the annual Disney Trade Celebration is called "13 - Reflections of Evil"
It starts on Friday the 13th (spooky) this September.


There are several changes to the event and to event procedures this year that I will go in detail about below. But the one change that has put me in conflict is that one of the pin collections actually started at last year's event. In 2012, while we were lined up on Saturday morning waiting to enter World ShowPlace, a cast member came along and gave everyone a wristband. We didn't know what it was for but we were told to make sure we were in the building at 1 o'clock. As it turned out, when the Event organizers announced the 2013 event each wrist band recipient was allowed to purchase the first in a series of 13 pins. Each month from September 2012 to September 2013 a different pin would be released. Each monthly pin has a Villain on it and is limited to 750.


This is where the conflict for me comes in! Due to my CCD (Collector Compulsive Disorder) when there is a collection involved, I can't just go with a few of the series, I have to have all - or nothing. I left the event last year with my mind made up that I didn't want this set of pins; I am not a Villain fan; I don't collect bad guy pins; the Evil Queen scares me; it would be too hard to get every month's pin . . . and so on.

Well one thing led to another and with the help of friends who have either visited WDW, a friend who lives close by WDW, and my couple of trips down since the event, I have all the pins that have been released - with the exception of 2. My conflict is - 1) Do I really want them? or 2) Have I just collected them because I could? Should I take them with me to the event and try to complete the collection (I have 2 doubles to use as traders) or do I use them to trade for pins that I actually collect. Nice pins like Pluto and Daisy and Orange Bird, not the nasty mean villains.

Another change this year is in the event packages. In previous years you signed up and paid for the pin portion of the event that was held Friday and Saturday and you signed up for the Vinylmation portion that was held on Sunday. This year when they announced the event package information, the pin portion was split into two separate packages. If you read closely, the Friday event included "limited" in the wording. Registration for these packages opened up on the 13th hour of the 13th day of May. I had my alarm set; my calendar marked and had warned family and friends to stand clear when the time came to register. I got into the online registration system at about 1:15 p.m. and signed up for everything. I was in and I had confirmation numbers for all three days as well as the two special breakfasts. I have heard that the Friday "limited" Club 13 Event Package sold out in less than an hour, and since then all of the other packages, with the exception of the Sunday Vinylmation package, have sold out.




Another big change from previous years is the closing time. The events always started at 9:30 a.m. but they were over at 6:00 p.m., this year the closing time has been extended to 7:00 p.m.

The RSP (Random Selection Process) had changed this year. Instead of submitting one RSP that included all of your merchandise selections, the merchandise is divided into 3 categories. "Pin Trading", "Art & Collection" and "Vinylmation Trading" are the categories and depending on what event package you have purchased, you have different selection options.


New for this year is the "Purchase with Purchase" opportunity; this can be added to the end of your RSP form.


The 2013 event is shaping up to be a really villainous good time. I am so excited to be going! Many of my pins trading friends are going to be there and we have lots of interesting plans in the works. I have my flights booked, my pin bag organized and ready. My Vinylmation traders are sorted and my RSP has been submitted. The only thing left is the big decision, do I or do I not try to complete the 13 Evil Pins collection? I'll let you know the answer when I get back from the event!

While you wait for my blog about the 2013 event why don't you read a few of my previous trading blogs. Here are a few links:

Pin Trading University - 2008

The Museum of PIN-TIQUITIES - 2009

Trade City USA - 2010

Mickey's Circus - 2012

Vinylmations blog - 2012

Pin Trading Tips blog - 2008

See you again in September!

Experience the Whimsy and Charm of the Boardwalk at Flying Fish Cafe

Andrew Rossi

Disney's Boardwalk Resort brings the charm of turn-of-the-century Atlantic City to life transporting Guests to a bygone area. When it was constructed in 1870, Atlantic City's boardwalk was the first in the United States and it played a major role in ushering in the city's golden era in the early 20th century. During this time, Atlantic City became one of the country's premiere vacation destinations featuring elegant hotels, vibrant nightlife, and world-class restaurants.

Disney's Boardwalk effectively recreates this setting not only with a distinct look and feel found in the resort's architecture and décor but also with its nightly entertainment on the boardwalk and wide array of dining options. When it comes to dining, Disney's Boardwalk offers something for everyone whether it be just grabbing a pastry from the Boardwalk Bakery, enjoying a game at the ESPN Club, or sampling the Greek-inspired cuisine of Cat Cora's Kouzzina. The crown jewel of the Boardwalk's restaurants, however, is the Flying Fish Café.


Open only for dinner, the Flying Fish Café holds true to its namesake and is best known for its fresh seafood. Being a Signature dining location, you know that you can expect the highest quality in all facets of the dining experience. However, as opposed to the more elegant and formal atmospheres of many other Signature restaurant's, Flying Fish Café is still able to deliver a unique and memorable dining experience without sacrificing its whimsy and charm.


In addition to being a Signature restaurant, the Flying Fish Café also features two special offerings. First is the Chef's Tasting Wine Dinner. Here Guests take a seat at the chef's counter, directly in front of the onstage kitchen, and are able to interact with the restaurant's culinary team as they prepare the evening's meal. This five-course prix fixe menu changes daily and is available just twice an evening (5:45 and 8:15) Sundays through Thursdays. The second unique experience is Dining with a Disney Imagineer. This four-course meal offers Guests one-of-a-kind insights into the design, theming, and history of the Disney parks and resorts. Both of these experiences are incredibly popular and reservations should thus be made well in advance.

Like all other Disney Signature dining locations, Flying Fish Café features a dress code. Men are encouraged to wear khakis, slacks, jeans, dress shorts, and collared shirts. Sport coats are optional. For women it is suggested that they wear capris, skirts, dresses, jeans, dress shorts. There are also certain articles of clothing that are not allowed in the dining room, such as tank tops, swimwear, hats, cut-off or torn clothing.

The Flying Fish Café continues the turn-of-the-century boardwalk feel of the rest of the resort, but does so in a playful and whimsical way. The flying fish that give the restaurant its name are literally flying from parachutes hanging from the ceiling.


The overall theme of the restaurant is that of an old-fashioned boardwalk amusement park; Coney Island is a picture that immediately comes to mind. However, this theme is presented in a way that is tasteful and subdued with a slightly upscale feel.

In addition to the parachuting fish, there is a large ferris wheel along the back wall of the dining room.


There is even one section of the restaurant that gives you the feel of dining inside of a circus tent.


The amusement park theme is best seen in a beautiful mural that stretches along the top of the dining room wall. Here you can find images of wooden rollercoasters, a fun house, steeplechase horses, swings, and people enjoying amusement park treats like popcorn and cotton candy.


This beautiful piece of art really goes a long way in solidifying the restaurant's theme.


Also, be sure to take note of the restaurant's beautifully painted ceiling creating the illusion of a blue sky filled with white fluffy clouds.


While the dining room may appear a little narrow at first glance, it stretches a long way back and the restaurant's high ceilings also contribute to give the dining room an open feel. Also assisting with this are a large number of windows that line the dining room and offer scenic views of the Boardwalk's courtyard gardens.


The restaurant also features an open kitchen which allows diners to see their meals being prepared. The counter directly in front of the kitchen is for those Guests enjoying the Chef's Tasting Wine Dinner.


Overall, I found Flying Fish to be one of the better-themed Signature restaurants that I have dined at. Not only does the restaurant do an effective job of carrying through the resort's theme from the boardwalk outside, it does so in a way that is not too over-the-top; you are still getting that more upscale feel that you would expect from a Signature dining location.
That being said, I do think that Flying Fish, because of its unique theming and atmosphere, is one of the more family-friendly Signature restaurants that I have dined at. In fact, I did notice many more families dining here than I typically see at other Signature dining locations.

The Menu:
Holding true to its namesake, the Flying Fish Café specializes in seafood. The restaurant's menu, however, is fairly diverse and features a wide variety of flavors and ingredients giving its dishes a more exotic flare. While there are several mainstays on the menu that the restaurant is known for, a good portion is constantly changing depending on the time of year and what ingredients are fresh. The following reflects the menu when I visited Flying Fish in mid-July.

Appetizers include Chardonnay-Steamed Canadian Cove Mussels ($18.00), Yellowfin Tuna Tartare and Crispy Tempura Tuna-Vegetable Sushi Roll ($18.00), Vegetarian Sushi Roll ($12.00), Crispy Maine Coast Jonah Crab Cake ($17.00) with roasted red pepper coulis and chile rémoulade, Crispy Sesame and Togarashi-Scented Calamari ($15.00) served with an Asian dipping sauce, Worldly Artisanal Cheeses ($18.00) featuring tasting portions of five different cheeses, and the Signature Flying Fish Cafe Appetizer Duo ($16.00) combining the jonah crab cake and caesar salad.

There are also a number of soups and salads available including the Chef's Special Thunder Appetizer ($13.00) with roasted beets, goat cheese, spiced pecans, oranges, and a pecan-truffle blood orange vinaigrette, Sherry-Laced She Crab Crema ($11.00), a Sweet Bibb and Red Oak Salad ($11.00) with pears, gorgonzola cheese, radishes, candied walnuts, and a walnut oil vinaigrette, Caesar Salad ($11.00), and Mozzarella di Bufala alla Caprese ($15.00).

The entrees may seem a little complex with all the various ingredients, but I found the servers very helpful in explaining the dishes. Among these are the Oak Grilled Swordfish ($34.00) served with wilted field greens, braised leeks, maitake mushrooms, and an Idaho potato torta with a tarragon butter sauce, California Asparagus and Mushroom Riccia Pasta ($26.00) topped with forest mushrooms, jumbo asparagus, arugula, porcini, and crispy shiitake mushrooms, Idaho Potato-Wrapped Red Snapper ($36.00) served over a rich leek fondue with a red wine butter reduction, Oak-Grilled Faroe Islands Salmon ($36.00) accompanied by arugula and red watercress, cucumbers, heirloom radishes, and tiny turnips with a vermouth, dill, caper and butter emulsion, Oak-Grilled Maine Diver Scallops ($35.00) served with Mediterranean vegetables and a mascarpone-laced risotto, Trio of Heritage Berkshire-Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin ($34.00) featuring grilled tenderloin, slow-cooked belly, and braised shoulder with a mushroom ragout and a corn goat cheese "pudding," the Char-Crusted Angus New York Strip Steak ($43.00) served alongside fingerling potatoes, red Bermuda onions, young carrots, and topped with a classic sauce foyot, and finally the Signature Flying Fish Cafe Entree Duo ($47.00) that combines the strip steak and potato-wrapped red snapper.

There are also several delectable side dishes to choose from including Grilled California Jumbo Asparagus ($12.00), Smoked Bacon and Garlic-Laced Rainbow Chard ($6.00), Leek, Fontina, and Truffle-Laced Mac and Cheese ($10.00), Creamy Risotto di Carnarolli ($8.00), Aged Gruyere and Parmigiano Potato Gratin ($8.00), and Herb-Roasted Mushrooms ($9.00).

If you still have room for dessert, there are several options which pay tribute to the restaurant's Boardwalk influence. The best example of this is the Trio of Concession Sweets ($9.00) featuring popcorn mousse and caramel corn, cherry-limeade popsicle, strawberry-raspberry "hot dog," and pound cake fries. There is also the Caramelized Banana Napoleon ($8.00), FFC Summer Sundae ($8.00) with cinnamon ice cream and cherry sorbet, candied almonds, and cherry compote, the "Nuts About Chocolate Indulgence" ($8.00) with a caramel, chocolate, and hazelnut praline mousse, a candied pecan and butterscotch-laced blondie, chocolate sorbet, and candied almonds, Cashew-Crusted Blueberry Goat Cheesecake ($8.00), and Peach Creme Brulee ($7.00).

For my meal I chose the Idaho Potato-Wrapped Red Snapper ($36.00), which my server described as one of the restaurant's signature and most popular entrees. The snapper comes served over a leek fondue and is accompanied by a red wine-cassis butter reduction. While the idea of fish wrapped in potatoes was very appealing, I was a little hesitant to order this dish because I was unsure of the leek fondue. I first asked if I could get something else substituted for the leeks, but my server assured me that this was an essential part to the dish and encouraged me to give it a try. I am so glad that I took his advice because the leeks were phenomenal.


Red snapper is not a strongly flavored fish, so it really relies on its accompaniments to enhance its flavor. The fish itself was perfectly moist and fell apart at the touch of a fork. The potatoes that wrapped the snapper were thinly cut and slightly crispy in texture, which provided a nice contrast to the softer fish. The leeks, while having a similar look and consistency, did not have as bold or prominent a flavor as onions and certainly did not overwhelm the other flavors of the dish. On the contrary, I felt that the leeks paired perfectly with the mildly-flavored snapper. Finally, the red wine-cassis butter reduction was the real star of the dish, providing a tremendous, and ever-so-slightly sweet, flavor that really helped tie the whole dish together.

As a side dish I decided to try Aged Gruyere and Parmigiano Potato Gratin ($8.00). Even though this was a side dish, it was really a highlight of the meal. I was amazed by how much flavor was packed into these potatoes. The gooey cheesiness of the potatoes certainly made for a rich and filling dish. It is definitely large enough to split between two or three people.


These potatoes really highlighted one of the things that I enjoyed most about the Flying Fish menu: the tremendous variety and combinations of flavors in each of the dishes. This is something that helps differentiate a Signature restaurant; they rely on a wide array of ingredients and flavors that help take common dishes and give them a more exotic and unique twist. Everything on the menu is truly of the highest quality.

Another benefit of Signature restaurants is the attentiveness of the servers. As a general rule, servers at Signature restaurants typically have fewer tables to wait upon and can thus devote more time to your needs. I found my server to be extremely helpful. With a menu featuring such a wide variety of ingredients and flavors, I relied heavily on my server to describe the various dishes and provide recommendations as to his personal favorites. Throughout the course of my meal, my server was constantly checking-in to makes sure everything was to my liking and ensuring that I did not need anything else. While not necessarily conversational, I found my server to be very dedicated. You could tell he clearly cared about providing the best service possible.

Another aspect of the service at Signature restaurants that I greatly enjoy is the pace of the meal. Here, you never really feel rushed and the meal progresses at a calm and relaxed pace that lets you fully enjoy the atmosphere and the food.

Dining on a Budget:
This is something that is difficult to do at Flying Fish Cafe. Unfortunately, while a Signature restaurant offers the best of the best in terms of atmosphere, location, food, and service, you are also paying for that high quality. The price of an appetizer here would be the equivalent of an entrée at some other Disney restaurants. If you are looking to splurge a little on a meal during your vacation this would be one of the restaurants to do it at because you certainly get what you pay for. That being said, if you choose to eat at Flying Fish, or any other Signature restaurant, there are a couple of ways to keep the bill low. First, don't order any alcohol. Beer and wine can often run up a bill, so you may want to consider a glass of water or soda. Second, share an appetizer rather than getting one just for yourself. Not only does this save money, but it also prevents you from filling up before your entrée arrives. Finally, skip or share dessert. The entrees are certainly big and filling enough that you do not really need to have a dessert all to yourself, which would also help to keep the cost of your meal down.

Flying Fish Cafe is on the Disney Dining Plan, but as a Signature restaurant it is worth two table service credits. If you are a Tables in Wonderland member, this is definitely a good restaurant to take advantage of its 20% discount. However, there are no additional discounts for Annual Passholders or Disney Vacation Club Members.

The Overall Experience:
I have always been a fan of Disney's Boardwalk. With its immersive theming and attention to detail, nightly entertainment, and various dining options, you really feel as if you have been transported to another time and place. The Flying Fish Café fits in perfectly with the Boardwalk's turn-of-the-century feel. What I liked most about the restaurant is that it has more charm and whimsy than you would typically expect from a Signature dining location. With its well-themed, slightly upscale, and more family-friendly atmosphere, the Flying Fish Café is not nearly as formal or elegant as some of Disney's other Signature restaurants, but I think this helps add to its appeal. It is a restaurant that is quintessentially Disney, but in a more subtle and subdued way.

It is not just the atmosphere, but everything about Flying Fish Café is of the highest quality. If you are a seafood lover, you will certainly not be disappointed with the restaurant's menu that features a wide array flavorful and exotic dishes.While it might be a little pricey, you are most certainly getting what you pay for in every aspect of the dining experience.

See past restaurant reviews by guest blogger Andrew Rossi.

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

August 25, 2013

It’s All In How You See It

Gary Cruise banner

It's an odd quirk of human nature that we can all look at exactly the same thing yet we might actually see something totally different. Our experiences and our memories shape our perceptions in some very different ways!

Here's an example - that park bench with the Goofy statue in Magic Kingdom's Town Square. I used to sit in the rocking chairs behind that bench. Families would come along and sit to pose for pictures with Goofy while I sat unnoticed in the background making funny faces. So when you look at that bench you might visualize a loved one sitting there. When I see it I imagine people getting home, looking at their photographs and saying, "Who is that goofy guy in the back?"

Another example . . . our son Steve came back from Walt Disney World a few years ago after a vacation there with his young family. He lamented their wait for Peter Pan's Flight . . . "I can't believe we had to stand in line 90 minutes for such a lame ride." So when he looks at the Peter Pan sign he sees a "tired old ride". And in some ways he's right - Peter Pan's Flight pales in comparison to today's newer and often interactive rides like Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and Toy Story Midway Mania - but to me it's a classic. It's a ride Carol and I seldom miss (but we always get a FastPass).


When I look at that Peter Pan's Flight sign I see something totally different; I see my son Steve as a five year old, sitting beside me in 1977, eyes filled with wonder and a smile a mile wide, as we both rode Peter Pan's Flight for the very first time. I hope they never change it!

Lou, a Walt Disney World Cast Member read my recent AllEars.net blog about the Electrical Water Pageant and started a thread on a popular Disney Camping forum which I visit regularly. He titled it "Oh no, a EWP Blog" and said: "I'm just tired of it, and here's why. When I was a front office Cast Member at a couple of Magic Kingdom resorts, I would see it or hear it every night. After a few hundred times, it gets a little old. After having experienced it so many times, you start noticing its weakness, and there are many. The main one being that it's unchanged for as long as I've seen it, which to me, comes across as it being hokey and amateurish."


Dave from Tennessee, a frequent camper at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, responded to that same Electrical Water Pageant thread: "The EWP is simply magical to me. Especially hearing the music on our first night at the Fort, when I'm usually tired from the drive and relaxing or even in bed by the time it starts. Hearing that music fire up makes me smile. Although, I remember vividly our first trip to the Fort with our girls in March 2007, which was the first time I had camped there in 30 years. We were in the 500 loop and had had a very tiring trip, so all of us were in bed by 9:30. It was chilly and no need for A/C, so the windows in the motor home were open. INC and I were laying in bed and it was very quiet, and then all of a sudden the EWP music started. As you know it can be quite loud in the loops closest to the marina. We both said "What the heck is that?" Had no idea at that point. We still laugh about that."

Hmmmm . . . strange how different our perspectives can be!

Some other AllEars readers shared a few of their favorite Disney sights with me. Do you see the same thing or feel the same thing when you look at these familiar scenes?

From Kameo C of El Mirage, AZ: My favorite sight at Walt Disney World is when you are at the Ticket and Transportation Centre walking down the ramp to take a ferry to Magic Kingdom. Seeing the train station and Cinderella Castle across the water, it's amazing. Walt Disney World is an escape, a magic place where all of your normal worries are left behind and you can focus on being a family or a couple. It is like walking in a dream. Wishes come true there.

From Allison J. of Deland FL: I think my favourite sight at Disney is the front entrance of the Magic Kingdom when it is decorated for autumn. I'm pretty sure Disney is the only place in Florida that can make it feel like it's fall. Even in 90 degree weather, the Disney autumn decorations just put you in the mood for sweaters and hot chocolate, football games and bonfires . . . all those quintessential autumn activities that we don't really get to experience here.

From Hilary S. of St. Louis, MO: My favourite sight at WDW has to be the Magic Kingdom at night from the California Grill. It is just gorgeous and I feel so relaxed and carefree admiring it with a glass of wine and good company. It was almost a tie -- another favourite is Spaceship Earth. My first glimpse of that always make me smile, take a deep breath and think "I'm here"!

From Cheryl J. of Mechanicsville, VA: The Partners statue is my favourite sight at Disney. It reminds me of holding my children's hands and looking bravely into the unknown. It makes me want to cry every time I see it.

Walt Disney World is packed full of many different and unique lands and attractions; there is a never ending variety of sights and scenes for each of us to enjoy. Both the old and the new . . . they are all "magical" to me and they are among the many reasons why I keep coming back "home".

I am sure that you and I could stand side by side looking at any Disney scene and see something quite different from each other . . . after the scene is filtered through our unique memories and experiences. I find it fascinating when I hear how differently people feel after looking at exactly the same thing.

What's your favourite sight or scene at Walt Disney World? What memories and emotions does it stir in you? Why is it so special for you?

August 26, 2013

Jim’s Attic: The Cameraman Statue

Jim's Attic: The Cameraman Statue
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.

Oddly, the dedication plaque for Disney Hollywood Studios is not near the front of the park but at the end of Hollywood Boulevard just over to the left in a fenced-in grassy circle.

Before the Name Change:
Disney's Hollywood Studios

After the Name Change:

Directly to the right of the plaque is the Cameraman statue. This statue was originally scrupled by father and son, Aldo and Andrea Favilli, in 1991.


Andrea Favilli received his formal education at Art Center College of Design where he graduated with honors in 1986. He has stated that he felt his art education truly began when he was a child growing up in Rome as he began drawing, painting, and sculpting under the tutelage of his father Aldo Favilli, who was working as a motion picture art director at Cinecittà Studios.

Upon his graduation from school, Andrea worked as a product designer for a variety of different clients including Mattel, Dakin and Applause. In particular, it was his creative involvement with the characters of the Dancing Raisins and Dominoe Pizza's The Noid that caught the attention of the Disney Company.

He joined Walt Disney Imagineering in 1987 as a lead concept designer working on a range of projects worldwide including ones for Disneyland, The Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center, Typhoon Lagoon, Disney/MGM Studios, Pleasure Island, Disney Animal Kingdom Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

In 1992, Andrea opened Favilli Studio and of course, the Disney Company was one of his clients, as was Roy E. Disney and Shamrock Holdings.

In fact, the DHS Cameraman statue is based on the original statue that Andrea made with his father Aldo that is located at 4411 West Olive Avenue across from Gate 2 of the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, California.

It was commissioned by Roy E. Disney and Shamrock Holdings, and was placed there in 1991 to celebrate the art of film making in the heart of the film making capital of the world. The plaque reads "He envisioned dreams that others might share".

The man in the statue is a generic 1920s/1930s film maker, not based on anyone in particular, especially not a young Walt Disney as some have claimed. It reflects the transition period when silents disappeared and talkies took over.


Andrea was also responsible for sculpting the Disney Legends Award, the American Teacher Award and the Frank G. Wells Award for the Disney Company as well as the Transpacific Yacht Race New Course Record trophy for Roy E. Disney.

A replica of the Burbank statue was later placed in Disney Hollywood Studios in 1995 with a plaque that states "Movies are a medium of expression like a symphony orchestra.. or a painter's brush or canvas -Walt Disney".

The placement of the statue at DHS is not just to honor film making but is placed to suggest that the guests are being filmed as they enter the park and are part of the motion picture they are about to experience.

At the feet of the camerman are a director's megaphone and an open script that includes the names of people who inspired Andrea including Herbert Dickens Ryman and Lucille Ryman Carroll (Andrea is a retired board member of the Ryman-Carroll Foundation), Roy E. Disney and Patricia Disney, Marty Sklar and Andrea's father, Aldo.


So, be ready for your close-up because the cameraman is getting ready to help transport you to the Hollywood that never was but always will be.

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

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":

August 27, 2013

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Fifteen years ago September, the beloved Magic Kingdom attraction
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride permanently closed its doors.

by Keith Gluck
Guest Blogger

During early planning for Walt Disney World, Chief Operations Officer of WED Enterprises Richard Irvine tapped Imagineer (and future Disney Legend) Rolly Crump to spearhead all of the Fantasyland attractions.

Thrilled with the assignment, Rolly immediately began formulating ways to improve upon the existing dark rides from Disneyland. One of the rides Disney decided to carry over was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which was extremely popular in Anaheim. In fact it was so popular, Vice President of Operations Dick Nunis advised Rolly that they should build two identical Toad rides, one right next to the other. Rolly did not share his vision. "I thought that was a dumb idea," Rolly said. "I told him to let me think about it for a while, and I'd come up with something better." And come up with something better, he did.

Rolly designed a two-track ride system that was housed in the same show building, giving riders two noticeably different ride experiences. On track one, passengers traveled through Toad Hall's library, over a farm, through Town Square, in and out of jail, past a shootout between cops and weasels, down the wrong way of a railroad tunnel, and ultimately, to Hell.

Track two also started riders out in Toad Hall, but through the Trophy Room instead of the library. The journey continued through a gypsy camp, Town Square, Winky's Tavern, the countryside at night, and their own Hell, also by way of the wrong way of a railroad tunnel.


The design was brilliant. Rolly even had the two tracks nearly intersect at points, giving the illusion of an impending head-on collision. Not only did having a second track double ride capacity, but in the 90s they started using motorcars that carried four passengers compared to Disneyland's two.

The ride was a huge hit, and a perennial guest-favorite from Opening Day.

In fall of 1997, however, rumors of its closure began to circulate. On October 22, the Orlando Sentinel addressed the rumor, reporting that Disney was considering replacing Toad with a ride based on Winnie the Pooh. Toad fans came out in earnest, devising ways to keep their beloved attraction open.

On October 23, Steve Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst (stars of the soon-to-be-aired television movie Tower of Terror) were asked their thoughts on the report while at Walt Disney World. 'That's one of my favorite rides,' cried Dunst. 'Save Mr. Toad!' That same day, a Save Toad website debuted.

Petitions were signed, Save Toad t-shirts and buttons were worn, and letters to Disney executives were written, all in a concerted effort to rescue the rambunctious amphibian known to some as J. Thaddeus.

On December 7, 1997, a peaceful protest labeled a "Toad In" was held outside of the attraction. Many more Toad Ins would follow, and Rolly later recalled, "They would walk around in front of the ride and chant and cheer. I was really touched by that." As the months went on, support for the Toadies' plight grew as various news outlets across the country picked up the story. Aside from surprising a few executives at Disney, the valiant efforts to save Mr. Toad went unrewarded. After nearly a year filled with rumors, petitions, and uncertainty, Disney finally made the official announcement on September 2, 1998.

Five days later, Mr. Toad took guests on one last wild ride, to nowhere in particular.

Photo Credit: http://www.math.miami.edu/~jam/toad/

Keith Gluck has been a Disney fan his entire life. While Disneyland is his 'home park,' he has been to and adores Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris. He runs thedisneyproject.com, and also volunteers at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. If you were to ask him his favorite thing about Disney, his answer would always be, "Walt."

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About August 2013

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

July 2013 is the previous archive.

September 2013 is the next archive.

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