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November 2, 2015

Epcot DiveQuest: Under the Seas

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by Randi Briggs
AllEars Guest Blogger

This activity at Disney World’s Epcot has become a favorite for my husband and me. If you scuba dive, then you must try this dive when visiting the World. There are two dives conducted on most days -- one at 4:30 and one at 5:30 (times do vary occasionally). You must be able to produce scuba certification (C-card) and children must be 10 years old or older and in the company of an adult.

Our recent dive was scheduled for 4:30. We met at Epcot's main Guest Relations office inside the park, and then were escorted to the Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion.

the-seas

We were taken on a short tour of the aquarium facilities, including the manatee habitat and the dolphin facilities. We saw where the tons of food for the animals and fish were prepared each day. They explained how animals in need of medical help were handled and treated. All in all, a very interesting tour.

We were then taken to the locker/shower rooms where we changed into "shorty dive skins." The only items of your own that are allowed are prescription dive masks and dive watches.

When everyone in the group was ready, they escorted us through the building (yes, where the guests are!) and then through another section of the aquarium to the spot where we would enter the water. They take care of everything for you. There is a dive master in charge, and several other dive masters helping in the water and out. Safety for the divers and the aquatic citizens is always first. My husband and I were helped with our tanks, fins and masks, and we slowly swam our way over to a buoy where we waited for the rest of the divers to assemble.

When the dive master called out "Dive, dive, dive!" the magic began. I can’t even begin to explain the excitement as I began to descend into a watery world filled with fish of every kind and shape. This included sharks, manta rays, and turtles (can you say Crush?). A video photographer accompanied the divers, and for a while the dive master led us through a magical world filled only with the sounds of your own breathing and bubbles through your regulator.

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divequest

We passed the rather good-sized shark (obviously well fed, since he didn’t seem interested in eating the "seals" -- us -- swimming in his habitat) and the photographer made an effort to film as many of us as he could with the shark.

The animals were very unconcerned and curious about the divers. They took one look and then ignored us, as if to say, "Ho hum, more of those creatures with the funny skin that make all that breathing noise in the water."

I am fascinated each time we make this dive. Wonder comes alive again for me and my husband.

One of the more fun activities while in the tank is to go over to the aquarium windows looking into the Coral Reef Restaurant and interact with the guests. Divers can wave, trying to get the children to laugh and ask for a taste of the food. The most fun is when you can get someone to smile. Last time we did the dive, a diver spied a pretty girl with friends through the glass at the restaurant, and pantomimed that he was trying to get her number to ask her for a date. It was pretty amusing to watch her laugh and blush with her friends.

Family and friends that are unable to dive are able to watch you from the windows in the pavilion, so many divers spend a good deal of time there showing off for kids and family members.

The dive lasted about 45 minutes, but felt like 10. There was just so much to see and it was so much fun swimming with the fishes. It was disappointing to hear the dive master start banging two rocks together, which is the signal to begin to ascend and leave the magical water world behind.

As we reached the surface and began the dog paddle to the stairs out of the water, we were exhilarated, sorry the dive was over... and really, really hungry! The dive masters helped everyone with their equipment and handed out towels as they escorted us back through the pavilion (dripping wet, hair sticking out at interesting angles). It is interesting that almost no one noticed us walking through.

After showering and cleaning up, we all met in a room where we watched the video that was made of our dive. The DVD costs $35, which is a bit high, but almost everyone bought one. We also got a great T-shirt to commemorate the dive.

After we left, we had dinner reservations at the Coral Reef, and requested a table next to the aquarium so we could watch the next group of divers and relive all the fun and wonderful moments again.

For those of you who dive, this would not be considered a challenging dive at all. It is easy, relaxing and tons of magical fun. We would do this again in a heartbeat!

EDITOR'S NOTE: DiveQuest costs $179 per person. To make reservations for this tour, call 407-WDW-TOUR. Be sure to ask about any available discounts (DVC, AP, Disney VISA for example). If you've participated in DiveQuest, please share your thoughts in our Rate and Review section HERE.

November 3, 2015

Ft. Wilderness Renovated Cabins

By Guest Blogger Kay Belin

Since the end of summer, crews have been busy refurbishing the Fort Wilderness cabins. Guests will be pleasantly surprised at the changes that have taken place and will continue to make it a sought after resort reservation. The cabins are especially enticing for the larger families since they can sleep six. In the past this was a tight squeeze but now it is a much more comfortable option. Work is currently going on in Loop 2600.

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The cabins themselves have stayed the same structurally. Since this is technically a wetlands area they cannot change the building profile. So Disney used their magic and pixie dust on the inside.

Guests will find new carpets and window treatments and new flooring throughout. There is also updated and new lighting. All cabins have had new decks built outside.

Probably the biggest change is the addition of a queen bed in the bedroom. With the bunks remaining as well as the nightstand I thought this might make for a very tight room but was pleasantly surprised that it looks and feels great. The new queen bed is also one where you can store your luggage or other gear underneath giving you more room. The closet and drawers remain the same and maybe during the next renovation they will address the small size of the closet.

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The bathroom has been updated with new countertop, tile backsplash, hardware etc. You now have four storage drawers as well as a large area of the countertop to keep personal items close at hand. Although the cabins have only one bathroom it is a large area for several to use at one time.

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The largest area of the cabins is the kitchen/dining/living room. Disney has added a great coat rack at the main door entry so you have a place for those pesky rain ponchos on rainy days.

The dining table is the same with the bench seat and three additional chairs allowing for six or more to sit and eat comfortably.

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Big changes happened in the kitchen and it all looks wonderful. New countertops and cabinets seem to open the room up and they have moved the sink and appliances to different locations. Disney removed the stove and oven and replaced them with a two burner cooktop and large convection/microwave unit. Some guests are intimidated by a convection oven but I can assure you that it is just as easy to cook food in it as a normal oven. I cook foods from meatloaf, pies, brownies and more in my small convection oven in my motor coach. There are new refrigerators and dishwashers making the kitchens some of the most updated ones on property.

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The final changes to mention are the ones that happened in the living area. The Murphy Bed is gone! In its place is a new queen sleeper sofa upholstered in a material that will repel just about anything that you could think of spilling on it including red wine! I find the color a bit too light for the decor but am happy that they addressed the possibility of spills happening on the furniture.

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The old small tv and cabinet have disappeared and in its place is a 55" flat screen tv mounted where the murphy bed once was located. Under the TV they have added 6 drawers helping overcome the small closet space.

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I am excited about the changes and excited that Disney is listening to the needs of the guests. The cabins have needed a true refurbishment for a long time and the results are definitely positive.

Check out over 50 new photos of the Ft. Wilderness Cabins!

Take a video tour!!

November 8, 2015

From the Tickle Trunk – Disney Recipes Part II

Gary Cruise banner

A few weeks ago we began a culinary tour of Disney Parks and Resorts courtesy of some old copies of Disney Magazine! Have you tested any of those Disney recipes yet?

Let’s pick up our tour right where we left off!

In the Fall 2004 issue we find instructions and pictures for:

1. Panna Cotta – Palo, Disney Wonder and Disney Magic
2. Monterey Clam Chowder – Pacific Wharf Café, Disney’s California Adventure
3. Nut-Crusted Salmon – Boma, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
4. Jungle Julep – Tahitian Terrace, Disneyland
5. Grapefruit Cake – The Hollywood Brown Derby, Disney-MGM Studios

Don't forget to click on each of the pages to see a larger, more readable version. You’ll definitely want to write some of these recipes down!

Disney Magazine Fall 2004 pg 75

Disney Magazine Fall 2004 pg 76

Disney Magazine Fall 2004 pg 78

That Panna Cotta served at Palo is absolutely wonderful . . . and it’s now served at Palo on all four of the Disney ships! If you’re not familiar with Palo, it’s a very upscale adult-only dining experience and is well worth the very reasonable $30.00 up-charge for either brunch on sea-days or dinner every day. Reservations go quickly, so book early!

And the Grapefruit Cake at the Hollywood Brown Derby is a dessert you must try. I always have the Cobb Salad which is a meal in itself, then follow with Grapefruit Cake! Very light, very tasty!

From the Winter 2004 issue you might like to make:

1. Banana Bread Pudding - Boma, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
2. Orange-Glazed Baby Carrots – Chef Mickey’s, Contemporary Resort
3. Mashed Boniato Potatoes - The Hollywood Brown Derby, Disney-MGM Studios
4. Sweet Potato-Hazelnut Gratin – Artist Point- Wilderness Lodge
5. Cranberry-Orange Scones – Storytellers Café, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel

Disney Magazine Winter 2004 pg 76

Disney Magazine Winter 2004 pg 77

Disney Magazine Winter 2004 pg 78

Some words were just made to go together . . . and three words that fit each other extremely well are banana, bread and pudding. I’ve sampled the Banana Bread Pudding at Boma and at ‘Ohana. I couldn’t decide which I liked best, so I tried them both again . . . and again . . . and again. There’s no clear winner so I’ll just have to keep tasting! Honourable mention for Ger's Bread & Butter Pudding at Raglan Road. It’s delicious too!

And finally, from the Spring 2005 issue:

1. Thai Noodle Bowl - The Hollywood Brown Derby, Disney-MGM Studios
2. Beef Stroganoff – Yacht Club Gallery, Yacht Club Resort
3. Creamed Spinach – 1900 Park Fare, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Disney Magazine Spring 2005 pg 74

Disney Magazine Spring 2005 pg 75

I haven’t tried any of the dishes from the Spring 2005 issue, but we will be at Walt Disney World when this blog is published and we have dinner booked at 1900 Park Fare during that trip. I’ll probably give that Creamed Spinach a try!

Do you use any Disney recipes at home?

We do! The Hoop-Dee-Doo Cornbread from Trails End Restaurant at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Carol does not normally like corn bread, but she really enjoys it at Fort Wilderness and prepares it at home quite often. Yum!

Disney is normally very happy to share recipes, so if there is a dish you particularly enjoy, ask your server if the recipe is available. They are often pre-printed for guests who ask.

Don’t forget, many of them (including that corn bread I mentioned above) are already listed on AllEars.net HERE!

You and your family can still enjoy a taste of Disney, even when you're not there!
Have fun whipping up your favourite Disney dish at home!

November 9, 2015

The Music of "Impressions de France"

by Al Krombach
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger

impressions de france

From the first peaceful notes of a lone flute to the concluding triumph of a full symphony orchestra reinforced by pipe organ, "Impressions de France" at Epcot's France pavilion has thrilled generations of visitors as much for its music as for its visual panorama of western Europe's largest and most varied landscape.

The 18-minute presentation is the oldest film still running in its original version at Walt Disney World. Displayed across five screens in a 200-degree arc - the normal field of vision of a (very comfortably) seated human - the presentation has played roughly 200,000 times by my calculations since Epcot's opening day on Oct. 1, 1982.

Even before that landmark day, hard-to-impress Disney Imagineers were calling the Palais du Cinema theater’s sound system the best they had ever heard in a Disney theme park, with thundering bass, brilliant highs and great detail. Electrical engineer Steve Alcorn, in his book about Epcot’s construction titled “Building a Better Mouse,” said the sound was so good that listeners at early test sessions were distracted by narrator Claude Gobet’s breathing; the narration had to be re-recorded before the show’s public debut.

Not so when it came to the music track, which was ready well in advance of Epcot’s premiere. The score features a who’s who of French classical composers, including Claude Debussy, Camille Saint-Saens, Francois Boieldieu, Jacques Offenbach, Maurice Ravel, Eric Satie, Paul Dukas and Buddy Baker -- but wait, who? As they sing on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the others.

Disney Legend Norman Dale “Buddy” Baker was the man behind the music of “Impressions de France.” The composer and/or arranger on more than 125 television shows and 40 feature films since joining Disney in 1955, he was the Disney Studio’s veteran composer in residence when the studio “loaned” him to WED Enterprises to oversee the musical development of Epcot.

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WED -- the forerunner of today’s Walt Disney Imagineering -- was up to its mouse ears with Epcot, tasked with developing two dozen attractions simultaneously when previously they’d tackled only one or two at a time. Baker, in addition to the France pavilion's presentation, also found himself responsible for the music in other shows in Future World and World Showcase. But "Impressions de France" was perhaps his greatest labor of love.

Baker sifted through 200 years of French classical music to choose the excerpts that best accompanied each scene. Each selection then had to be arranged and timed precisely to match each frame of film before he conducted the recording session with the London Symphony Orchestra. He had to arrange the music that would stitch the classical selections together seamlessly, so that one scene led smoothly to the next. He also composed his own original music to accompany many of the scenes, often using typical French instruments like accordion to capture the scenes' flavor, whether rural, religious or citified.

In fact, of the 49 separate scenes in "Impressions de France," Baker's music accompanies 22 of them.

For those who can recall the film, or who want to listen for Baker's music at their next visit, two of his lengthier excerpts stretch from Scene 8, a horse cart passing through a village, to scenes 14 and 15, the palace at Versailles; and Scene 30, a wedding in a Brittany church, to Scene 37, a couple dining outdoors in twilight above Cannes.

Unfortunately, those segments are not to be found within the "Impressions de France" selection included on the seven editions of Disney parks music CDs published since 1999. The less-than-10-minute track, while including most of the classical selections, unaccountably omits all of Buddy Baker's original music except for about 30 seconds' worth of a wistful interlude that accompanies views of the Seine River and Notre Dame cathedral near the end of the film.

"Impressions de France" in the France pavilion repeats roughly on the hour and half-hour, beginning at about 11:30 a.m. daily. While the theater seldom fills up for any showing these days, the first and last shows of the day are the least crowded. Soundwise, there's not a bad seat in the house. While the soundtrack has always been digital, the quality of the projected images was vastly improved in 2011 when the film itself was remastered and digitized, eliminating the scratches and other annoying imperfections of conventional film that sometimes plagued viewings before that date.

Buddy Baker was named a Disney Legend in 1998. He died in 2002. In a filmed 2001 interview, the host asked him what constitutes the "Buddy Baker sound."

"French," Baker said, "out of the French school of music. I have a tendency to lean that way."

Park-goers who keep coming back for repeated viewings of "Impressions de France" are very glad he did.

RELATED LINKS:

-- Full listing of "Impressions de France" scenes in order of appearance.
-- Listing of "Impressions de France" musical selections.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A professional journalist for more than 30 years, Al Krombach has served with several Florida newspapers and retired in 2015. He is an alumnus of the Florida State University College of Music and has worked with a variety of musical groups (as an instrumentalist) and choirs (as a director). He and wife Vicky have three children and five grandchildren, every one a Disney fan. They are longtime Disney aficionados and have accumulated more than 250 park visits since the World began.


November 16, 2015

REVIEW: Merry and Bright Osborne Lights Dessert Party

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By Guest Blogger Kay Belin and Comments by Deb Wills

Fabulous lights, wonderful music, and delicious sweets certainly bring out the festive spirit in all of us. Disney has put all three of these ingredients together to offer the 90 minute Merry and Bright Dessert Party at Hollywood Studios.

This special ticketed event allows guests to enjoy the famous Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights while enjoying some holiday sweets and drinks in a private area at the end of the Streets of America.

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Every guest of the party will be given a large light-bulb sticker to wear. This sticker was always coming off and it would have been a nice touch to perhaps have some sort of plastic credential to wear around your neck instead. Be sure to put the bottom section in a safe place - you will need that to get your special blanket when you are ready to leave.

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When you entered you were given unique glasses to wear while enjoying the lights. I have to say I expected to see millions of Mickeys when wearing them but instead something else surprised me. I think I will keep it a surprise to all of you planning on enjoying this party!

Tables are set up to accommodate everyone (or so it seemed) and seat 4 persons. Most tables have wonderful views of the lights and the light shows taking place around them. It was quite enjoyable to have a seat to relax and take in the beautiful views. It was especially nice to listen to the music but not have it so loud that you could not have conversations with those around you.

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KAY: Unfortunately, the tables were a bit too close together making it difficult to wind your way back with a full plate of sweets or drinks without taking many detours or hitting chairs.

DEB: I totally agree on the closeness of the tables. For an event at this price point, I would want a roomier table set up and not have to balance my food while navigating the chairs and tables. Also, while the location is great, you still need to venture out into the actual Osborne Lights to see displays on both the sidewalks (see below) and the color canape!

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There is a section of tables for wheelchairs and ECV's. Getting around the dessert tables and drink stations is more roomy than the seating area which makes it nice for all guests.

Now it's time to talk about the sweets and drinks. I was amazed at the great offerings for this dessert party. There are two stations with the same desserts on each and two sides allowing for many guests to serve themselves at the same time. There was never a line so you weren't spending your whole evening standing waiting for food and drink.

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Some of the offerings, and they could change from party to party, include light-bulb eclairs, lemon and raspberry cups, chocolate truffle wreaths, rice crispy bon bons, white chocolate peppermint mousse, and coconut cakes. The mousse and coconut cakes were favorites while the eclairs were a bit messy to eat and not as appealing.

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Another station served pecan and apple pies with buttered popcorn vanilla gelato and these were both very good and popular.

KAY: I especially appreciated their effort with those guests who needed gluten free desserts as they will provide a cute box with a variety of sweet items for them. If you have such a need or need no sugar added desserts please note that when making a reservation so they can be ready to serve you your special items.


DEB: My favorite was the Gelato :) To me the desserts available were not as good or varied as other Hollywood Studios dessert parties I have attended. The addition of the ever popular Mickey Ice Cream Bar would have been nice.

DEB: Even noting a special dietary request on your reservation does not necessarily guarantee a special dietary box. Go over to the dessert area after getting your table and ask cast members for the Gluten Free or No Sugar Added. I was told the Gluten Free box is almost always on site. However, on the night we went, there weren't any "no sugar added" options. The manager did offer to go to a restaurant and get something but I declined. Here is a photo of the Gluten-Free dessert box. Also note there are 2 items on the dessert bar labeled as "No Gluten Added". Scroll Down for contents of Gluten Free Dessert Box.

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The coffee station included several flavored additives (hazelnut or caramel cane sugar syrup; zero calorie French Vanilla syrup) as well as tea and hot cocoa complete with peppermint and marshmallow offerings. Water, soda, cider and juice are available.

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Four alcoholic choices were found at the bar and were given special holiday festive names such as Jack Frost, Snowflake Flurry, Warm Mistletoe, and Cinnamon Crush. The warm mistletoe is indeed a warm drink and probably not the best choice on a hot night , although I did enjoy the flavor. It was nice to see even the bar themed for the evening.

Pictured below:

The Cinnamon Crush - Hot Apple Cider with Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey -- think a sweet cinnamon red hot ~!

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Warm Mistletoe - Hot Chocolate, Bailey's and White Chocolate Syrup

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In addition to bottled water and sodas there are 2 Merry and Bright non-alcoholic beverages. The Elf Warmer is hot apple cider garnished with dried apple slice. The Rosy Cheeks, has passion, orange, and guava juice with a touch of Grenadine.

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Remember the light bulb sticker I mentioned at the start? Well, be sure and pull it back out so you can get your parting gift as you leave! It is a very nice lap blanket which is something very special this year since it has the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, 2015 written on it. Since this is the last year of the lights this will be a keepsake you will cherish. The blanket comes in either blue or red and measures approximately 42" x 52".

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CONCLUSIONS:

KAY: I enjoyed the event and recommend it but, I find it better suited to a date night situation or adults versus families. With the cost being $69 for adults and $39 for children (3-9) I don't feel the food offerings for the children would make it cost worthy. Most children enjoy simple sweets such as cookies and these choices are very sophisticated and more for the adult tastes. Although you can come and go as you wish during the party wiggle worm children will want to be out on the street getting up close to the lights and the action and counting how many lighted Mickeys they can find.

DEB: I, again, agree with Kay. To me, this event is about sitting, relaxing, noshing and sipping on the sweetness, and enjoying the ambiance of the lights. While you can come and go, I would wait until you are ready to leave the event (or it concludes) and then go visit the lights up close and personal. If you or your group don't want to sit, relax, and enjoy the evening I suggest you attend Minnie's Holiday Dine (review coming) and then go walk the lights on your own.

This is sadly the last year for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights in Hollywood Studios and this Merry and Bright Dessert Party would be a great way to say good-bye. Being able to sit and look upon the lights and not be in the throngs of people moving down the Streets of America is relaxing. Add to that some tasty sweets and drinks makes for a wonderful evening.

You still have a chance to book the party as it will continue until December 30 excluding 11/17, 12/9, and 12/18. Party time is 7-8:30pm until 12/24 and then 8:30-10pm until 12/30. Check in may begin as early as 6:30pm.

Admission to Hollywood Studios is required and you are not able to use Disney Dining entitlements for this event. In case of rain it will be moved under cover. You can book on line or by calling 407-939-3463.

This is a bittersweet year for many of us who have enjoyed seeing this incredible light display for the last twenty years. Change is hard and we have lots to look forward to ahead in the Studios. Take this opportunity to say good-bye with this comfortable and festive dessert party.

CONTENTS of the Gluten Free Box:
Housemade Popcorn and dried cranberry mix (small)
OMG It's Gluten Free Fudge Brownie
Housemade Cookes (3)
Larabar Cashew Cookie
Larabar Peanut Butter Cookie
Enjoy Life BoomChocoBoom rice milk crunch bar

Please leave your comments and questions below!

DISCLAIMER: Kay and Deb were guests of Walt Disney World as media. This did not affect our story, and our opinions our own.

REVIEW: Breakfast at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

Sci Fi Breakfast Mickey Waffle

by David S. Abel
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger

Usually all the new things open or start just days after I return home from a trip to Walt Disney World. Therefore I was quite excited when I saw that the Sci-Fi Dine-In at Hollywood Studios was going to begin offering breakfast during my recent visit! And naturally I had to make reservations for the first day.

Sunday, November 1, my traveling party arrived at the Sci-Fi Dine-In about 10 minutes early for our 9:30 a.m. breakfast reservation. The four of us were promptly seated in a car that seats six towards the back of the drive-in and were given our road maps (menus).

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The breakfast is a fixed price of $23.99 per person, which seemed a bit high, but once we figured out exactly what was included, it didn’t really seem that bad.

Each person receives three pastries (a croissant, a double chocolate muffin and a cinnamon bun), choice of a yogurt parfait or fresh fruit, choice of entrée and a beverage.

Sci Fi Breakfast Pastries and Yogurt Parfait

Amongst our party we ordered the Steak and Eggs, Shrimp and Grits and Mickey Waffle. We all started with the yogurt parfait which included raspberry and vanilla yogurts with fresh berries and granola. My Steak and Eggs was very tasty, and the platter was served as you might expect at an expensive gourmet restaurant.

sci-fi-steak-and-eggs
sci-fi-shrimp-and-grits

There was a slight delay from ordering our beverages until they were delivered and our order taken. I chalked that up to the fact that it was the first day and they didn’t have everything running smoothly yet. Otherwise our server was good and really played up the drive-in/car themes.

The movie screen seemed to show the same sci-fi clips they usually show. I thought it would’ve been neat if they showed more [space-related] cartoons during breakfast.

I had read some speculative comparisons to the breakfast offered during Star Wars Weekends when this was first announced, unfortunately I’ve never experienced that breakfast so I can’t confirm any similarities.

I can say, though, that we all left full and happy, and that we had an enjoyable breakfast. I believe this could be a nice alternative to the sit-down breakfast at Hollywood & Vine.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Breakfast at Sci-Fi is being tested from November 1, 2015 to January 23, 2016. This is a fixed price breakfast. $23.99 plus tax adults, $12.99 plus tax ages 3-9.

November 21, 2015

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - November 2015

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

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

Once each month, in the AllEars® Bits and Bites issue, our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) supplies us with a puzzle of his own design.

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

This month, James writes:

I was surprised to receive only 19 correct responses to last month’s Guest Blog Picture Quiz!
Here are the answers:

Photo 1: WDW Railroad
Photo 2: Swiss Family Treehouse
Photo 3: Mad Tea Party
Photo 4: Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade

As far as what they have in common: each of these attractions are one of the 23 original Walt Disney World opening day attractions on Oct. 1, 1971.

It’s interesting to note that other attractions opened not long after the official opening, but not on October 1. For example, Peter Pan’s Flight debuted on Oct. 3, 1971, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea followed on Oct. 24, 1971, and Flight to the Moon opened on Dec. 24, 1971.

I also received many ‘incorrect' responses; not necessarily wrong answers, just not what I was going for. In future puzzles, keep in mind that the attractions shown will have something in common that is unique to them -- and that is the answer that I'm looking for. Things that many or most attractions have -- like music, or audioanimatronics, or signs -- are not the unique sort thing that I'm looking for!

The winner of a Rapunzel pin, randomly drawn from the correct responses, was Meredith A. of Taylors, SC. Thanks everyone for playing!

If you missed it last month, don't worry -- Here’s another chance!

Continuing with the photo quiz with a twist idea, I’m going to show you a few cropped pictures from Walt Disney World

You need to first identify the attraction, shop or restaurant where these pictures were taken. Don’t worry about exact location, just generally identify the location, such as "the Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios."

Next is the ACTUAL answer that I’m looking for!

Tell me what these images have in common that is unique to these attractions. (Note: It will not be something obvious, like "they are all located in the Magic Kingdom.") I’m hoping to make these challenging! And don't forget to look for my hint!

OK, if everybody is neat and pretty, let’s begin!

PHOTO 1

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PHOTO 2

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PHOTO 3

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PHOTO 4

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So, what do they have in common that was specific to these attractions?

Okay, there you go! You should recognize that these are not all opening day attractions or extinct attractions.

This may be a little more challenging, so the hint will be even more important!

Here’s the HINT: Astronaut Sally Ride had this right.

The object is, as always, to have fun, but if you'd like a chance to win a Disney collectible pin, send me the answer -- that is, what these images have in common -- IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

NOTE: Please don't reply to this blog with your answers! If you want a chance at winning the pin, you MUST submit your answer to the email address.

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on December 15, 2015. All correct answers will be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be awarded a Disney pin. The answers and drawing winner will be posted in this Guest Blog in mid- to late December.

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

Thanks!

November 22, 2015

Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure

Gary Cruise banner

Tucked far-away in a back corner of Adventureland is one of our “must-do” Disneyland attractions. The Indiana Jones Adventure is always a priority when Carol and I visit Disneyland!

Indiana Jones Sign

The entrance to the Indiana Jones Adventure is between The Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean, but the entrance for The Temple of the Forbidden Eye is a half-mile away. Yes, you read that correctly, the queue for this attraction is a half a mile long, and it’s that spectacular queue that I want to talk about in this blog!

First let’s take a look at the scope of the construction project! Building an attraction of this size and scope in a mature theme park raised some challenges. The park was fully developed, filled with popular attractions, with very little surplus space available. So, how did they do it?

Imagineer Tony Baxter was in charge of this big job, this very big job. They had to re-route the monorail and modify the Jungle Cruise river to make it all fit. The picture below shows a “bulge” in the monorail line where it was moved to create space for the new building.

Birds Eye View of Indiana Jones Adventure

The Indiana Jones Adventure took a year and a half to build; construction began in August 1993 and the attraction opened March 4, 1995.

Now, lets get back to that half-mile-long queue that runs between the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean to the 50,000 square foot “show building” which is in the site of the former Eeyore parking lot. Tony Baxter led a team of hundreds of Imagineers who designed and built a visually rich and immersive attraction!

Every Disney attraction has a backstory and the Indiana Jones Adventure has one that fans of the movie series will find very exciting. The backstory is laid out in clues which attentive guests can read and see as they pass through the entry queue. Read the letters and telegrams posted along the queue, watch the newsreels and all will be revealed!

It is 1935 and you are in India, at the Lost River Delta. Intrepid adventurer Indiana Jones has pieced together clues and map fragments resulting in his discovery of an ancient Bengalese temple, buried for over 2000 years in the river silt. The Temple of the Forbidden Eye!

Temple of the Forbidden Eye

The temple God, Mara, offers visitors one of three gifts, earthly riches, eternal youth, or visions of the future – but there is a catch! Guests must never gaze into the eyes of Mara!

Indiana Jones is leading the excavation at the site, but funding for the project is tight. To raise money to continue the dig Sallah (played by John Rhys-Davies) has been offering guided tours of the temple. Many of the tourists have been granted riches, youth or visionary powers, but some have not returned. Jones went in search of the missing guests and has not been heard from in over a week . . . now it’s time for your tour!

Serpent Statues

Keep your eyes open as you pass through the entry queue and this story will be evident in the clues you find. But beware of all the booby-traps! Don’t step on the diamond shaped cobble stones, they activate the traps! Look for artifacts from the movies; that big Mercedes-Benz troop transport truck you see as you enter is from the first Indiana Jones movie. You can almost visualize Harrison Ford crawling beneath it as it careens down the road!

The Troop Truck

When you encounter a rope with a sign asking you not to pull the rope, be sure to give it a yank. Just ignore the sign and pull!

It’s an awesome entry that you should take time to enjoy. If you get a FastPass and dash through every time you’re missing a very rich experience. Take your time and look around, soak in all the amazing details the Imagineers added just for you!

Here’s a project for you! Throughout the entries chambers and passages the walls are filled with petroglyphs written in “Marabic”.

True Rewards Await Those Who Choose Wisely

They give you hints about the riches and the perils ahead of you. When the attraction first opened special cards were given to all guests. They were designed to help guests translate the Marabic into English.

Indiana Jones Code Solution

Click on the image below to see a larger version of the decoder, then save the file. Print it and take a copy along on your next trip to Disneyland.

Indiana Jones Decoder Card

At the end of the queue, just before you board the truck for your tour, Sallah gives you some final safety instructions and then you buckle-up for the adventure! The vehicles resemble large jeeps and hold 12 passengers in three rows, four abreast. They are full of hydraulic activators which move the vehicles in all sorts of different ways, every ride is unique as the vehicle bounces, careens, slows then races through the temple.

The Indiana Jones Adventure shares the same ride system used in Animal Kingdom’s Dinosaur attraction, but neither of us likes Dinosaur. We don’t enjoy the many long dark passages and find it very rough, bumpy and uncomfortable. The “Indy” ride, on the other hand, is amazing! Yes, it’s bumpy but it’s so exciting and so engaging that we are captivated by our surroundings.

It’s filled with scenes reminiscent of the movies, ancient relics, evil curses, rickety bridges, giant rolling boulders and of course, “Snakes, why does it always have to be snakes?” Scene after exciting scene from the movies pass as you hurtle by in your jeep!

The Lava Room

So, the next time you visit Disneyland be sure to take a slow stroll through the queue at Indiana Jones Adventure. Take time to look for all those clues, translate those petroglyphs. Savour the experience that Tony Baxter and all those other Imagineers built just for you.

Tony Baxter

Don’t worry, things will speed up as soon as you board your jeep!

Oh, one final thing, that petroglyph I showed you earlier?

True Rewards Await Those Who Choose Wisely
It reads: “True rewards await those who choose wisely”

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About November 2015

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in November 2015. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2015 is the previous archive.

December 2015 is the next archive.

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