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April 14, 2014

Coronado Springs -- A Relook

Jack Spence Masthead

Coronado Springs

The AllEars team strives to keep our webpages up-to-date. Trust me, this is no easy task. As you are probably aware, Disney is constantly changing things big and small and we’re often playing catch-up.

As my longtime readers know, I have written reviews for all of the Disney resorts plus the Swan and Dolphin. These are available in the AllEars archives. To find a particular article, go to our search engine and type “Jack” plus the name of the resort. Chances are good that my blog will be the first or second listing.

I am now in the process of reexamining all of the Disney World resorts to see what has changed since my last overnight visit – and I decided to start with Coronado Springs. I last posted on this resort on August 17, 2010. To see this article,
click here. What follows is not another full description of the resort, but rather a listing of what’s changed in the last three and a half years. Let’s start with the room.

Coronado Springs is one of three moderately priced resorts located at Walt Disney World. The others are the Caribbean Beach Resort and the Port Orleans Resort. Coronado Springs opened on August 1, 1997, has 1,921 guest rooms and suites, and is the only resort in this price category to have a full-fledged convention center. The entrance to the complex is located off of West Buena Vista Drive.

The guest rooms at Coronado Springs measure approximately 314 square feet. Most rooms feature two queen beds. There are 224 rooms with king-size beds and 99 disabled-accessible rooms.

On both of my visits, I stayed in the “Cabanas” section of the resort. The theme here is that of a small tropical fishing village found along the Mexican coast. On my first visit I stayed in a “standard” room, on my recent outing, I was lodged in a corner room.

(Note, on my first visit, I stayed in building 9B. The rooms in this block are “business class” rooms. On my second visit, I was lodged in building 9A, a “regular” room. Some of the changes described below can be attributed to this.)

The first change you’ll notice are the guest room door locks. These are now operated via a wristband rather than a cardkey. Guests simply “tap” the Mickey on their band to the receiver on the door and presto, the lock clicks open.


Wristband Door Locks

Wristband Door Locks


The overall décor of the rooms was the same then as it is now. I know this because I took extensive photos on each visit. The first picture below is from 2010 and the second from 2014.


Room Decor

Room Decor


The only décor change I could find has to do with seating. In 2010 the room had a chair. In 2014, the chair had been replaced by two hassocks. This can be attributed to the difference in categories. The “business” room has a chair, the “regular” room has hassocks.


Room Decor

Room Decor


In 2010 the room had a DVD player. It did not today. Once again, this can be attributed to room category.

Parents beware! At one time, Disney blocked adult content from the internet when connecting via their WiFi. This was not the case on my last visit.

The vanity and bath areas are identical except that the shower curtain now sports a colorful Mesoamerica design. It’s a little change but a big impact.


Shower Curtain

Shower Curtain


I did not notice any changes in the exterior of the buildings, the main lobby, the registration area, and Panchito’s, the resort’s shop.

Café Rix, was added to Coronado Springs several years after the resort opened. This is a “grab-and-go” food mart where guests can purchase a quick bite to eat. In 2010, this spot featured a small counter-service window were you could order a hot breakfast, hamburgers, pizza, and other similar items cooked to order. Unfortunately, this counter has been removed and now all “meals” are prepackaged at Café Rix.


Cafe Rix Counter


The “kitchen” area in the Pepper Market has been slightly rearranged and the Asian food station removed.


Pepper Market


The menu for Maya Grill has changed significantly over the last three and a half years


Maya Grill


At the Explorer’s Playground at The Dig, I noticed the swings were missing. I do not know if this is a permanent situation or temporary.


Swing Set

Missing Swings


All of the swimming pools now offer lifts that can lower and raise a mobility challenged person into and out of the water.


Swimming Pool Lift


The only other change I noticed were in the prices. Everything is more expensive today. Sigh.

I feel that Coronado Springs is the “forgotten” Disney World resort. When I ask people where they are staying, I rarely hear this resort mentioned – and I’m not sure why. I like this spot a lot. I think the architecture is wonderful and it boasts a magnificent pool and playground for the kids. In addition, the Pepper Market is a unique dining opportunity with nothing else like it at Walt Disney World. I know the resort is large, but it’s not any larger than Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. And bus service is available to transport you to and from El Centro.

I’m a big proponent of trying everything Disney has to offer. To stay at the same resort year after year and to eat at the same restaurant time and time again is limiting. Disney has put a lot of effort and imagination into everything they do. When you try something new, it might not make it to your top-ten list. But then again, it just might. And it’s rare that Disney will give you a bad experience so you really don’t have anything to lose. So next time you’re contemplating booking a moderate hotel, consider Coronado Springs. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

While visiting last week, I videotaped my guest room (2½ minutes) and the entire resort (12½ minutes). Take a look and see if you don’t agree that this resort is worth your consideration.



RELATED LINKS:

** Coronado Springs Fact Sheet
** Reader Reviews
** Holiday Decorations Around Coronado Springs Video

April 7, 2014

Disney Hodgepodge Four

Jack Spence Masthead


Pacific Electric Pictures

Today I’m going to discuss one of the stores found on Hollywood Boulevard at Disney's Hollywood Studios, L.A. Cinema Storage. Inside this building shoppers can find children’s clothing, plush toys, character hats, and princess merchandise.


L.A. Cinema Storage

L.A. Cinema Storage

L.A. Cinema Storage


As you may know, many of the buildings on both Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards were modeled after real structures found in the Los Angeles area. L.A. Cinema Storage is one of these and its inspiration can be found at 9070 Venice Boulevard, Culver City, CA.


Substation


Years before Los Angeles was famous for its freeways, it boasted the largest mass transit system in the world, the Pacific Electric Railway. LA locals affectionately called the trolleys either the P.E. or the Red Car. The system spanned southern California with over 1,100 miles of track that ran between Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties. The system was begun by Henry Huntington as a way of opening up new land to developers. As freeways grew in popularity during the 1950’s, P.E. ridership declined. The last Red Car ran in April, 1961.

The above building in Culver City was designed in the Mission Revival style of architecture and was used as a substation for the Red Car. Inside this structure, rectifiers converted AC power into DC power to run the Pacific Electric Railway. This substation was renovated in 1992 and today is used as a theater for live performances.

The backstory for the building at Disney's Hollywood Studios also suggests that this structure was used in connection with the Pacific Electric Railway. If you look near the building’s peak you can see the P.E. logo. In addition, if you examine the side of this structure (before the addition of the large awning) you can see oversized doors. These doors suggests that this building was a car barn for the Red Cars. To further this backstory, the Imagineers placed a Red Car station directly across the street.


P.E. Building

P.E. Building

P.E. Station


You might also notice the address of this building 1928. This is the year Mickey Mouse made his debut in Steamboat Willie.


1928 Address


When the Studio first opened, this structure had a far more interesting function than “just another place to buy souvenirs.” This stop along Hollywood Boulevard was called Pacific Electric Pictures. Although I have no still photos of this location, I did take a few videos using one of those gigantic on-the-shoulder cameras. What you see next are freeze-frame photos I captured from my cinematographic efforts.

A banner was draped above the doors facing Hollywood Boulevard, beckoning guests to come in for an audition and screen test.


Pacific Electric Pictures

Pacific Electric Pictures


Once inside, guests found themselves on a mini-sound stage. Several cameras and some sound equipment were positioned around the room and a number of backdrops were available. Also on hand were racks of costumes in various sizes.

Those who wandered in for a looksee were encouraged to participate, but when budding stars were scarce, cast members would recruit would-be actors from the street. Once a group was assembled, they would then be instructed how to play a particular scene by a comical director. After a short rehearsal, the scene was played out again, but this time it was videotaped. And guess what, guests could actually buy a copy of their Hollywood debut on video tape for a mere $24.95.


Pacific Electric Pictures


Researching Pacific Electric Pictures turns up almost no information. It is mentioned in the 1990 and 1991 “Steve Birmbaums’ Guide to Walt Disney World,” but it is not mentioned in the 1992 version. So obviously, this attraction did not garner enough attention (and money) to become a long-lived, must-do event.

A similar and also short-lived attraction could be found across the street in what is now the Keystone Building. At Sights and Sounds, guests could record their own music videos. But once again, lack of interest forced the closing of this attraction within its second year.


AMC Fork & Screen

In the late 1940’s and 1950’s, the owners of movie theaters were worried that the relatively new invention of television would cut into their business. They believed if folks opted to stay home and watch free TV, it would hurt profits. But for the most part, their fears were unwarranted. Going to the movies remained a special treat and people enjoyed the sound and picture quality that home entertainment could not offer.

However, things changed in the 2000’s. Now it is possible to get the “theater” experience at home. Big screen high-definition televisions, surround sound, Blu-ray, Netflix, 3D, cable and satellite offer the film enthusiasts a real alternative to a night out at the movies.

To combat this new competition, theater chains have had to come up with creative ways to lure customers back into their establishments. One idea is to offer more than the traditional concession fare to their patrons. Hot dogs, nachos, and popcorn are good, but they don’t really take the place of a real meal. So several theater chains have converted some of their multiplexes into combination dining room/movie houses. Now, patrons can enjoy a real meal in comfort while watching the latest blockbuster. The AMC Theater at Downtown Disney West side is one of these establishments. They call this new service Fork & Screen.


Fork & Screen Logo


Although you can enter the Downtown Disney AMC Theater at two locations, the main entrance for Fork & Screen is located across from Planet Hollywood.


Fork & Screen Entrance


You can purchase tickets at the theater, but I suggest buying them online for the best seat selection. Once you pay for your admission, a chart will appear that allows you to select the seats you want.

The theaters have two seating configurations, 4-4-4 and 2-4-2. Since the theater is relatively small, all of the seats are good. However, I would avoid the seats against the wall in the 4-4-4 configuration.


Seating Chart

Seating Chart

(Charts not to scale.)


The system does have intelligence built into it. For example, a party of two cannot pick the two middle seats in a row of four, leaving a single seat on either side. The system does this to avoid “stray” seats. However, this isn’t a problem. The seats are so large and roomy that it really isn’t an annoyance to have someone sitting next to you.

When you arrive at the theater, you present the box office personnel with the credit card you used to pay with online. You will then be given your tickets with your seat numbers printed on them.

The theater opens 30 minutes before the stated show time (when previews begin). Although you can arrive one minute before the movie, I would suggest at least 20 minutes before the previews start. This gives you time to get settled and read the menu with overhead lights. Shortly after getting seated, your waiter will arrive and take your drink order. When he returns, it’s hoped that you’ll be ready to place your meal order. Note, the food is charged separately from your admission ticket. About halfway through the movie, your waiter will bring you the bill. In addition, each set of seats has a “call button” to summon your waiter if you need refills, extra catsup, or whatever.

Here are a few pictures of the seats and tables.


Fork & Screen

Fork & Screen

Fork & Screen


For those of you who have eaten at the Sci Fi Dine In at Disney's Hollywood Studios, you might notice a similarity in table/chair configuration. However, at the Fork & Screen, the table is significantly further away from your chair – especially if you lean back. Because of this, most meals are served in large, square bowls. This allows you to lean back, hold the bowl in your lap, and forgo the table. If you opt for this style of eating, I have two suggestions. First, order finger food. It’s easier to eat. For instance, their juicy hamburgers are good, but they are also messy. And with the overhead lights out, navigating a burger in the dark can be difficult. Second, tuck the provided cloth napkin into your shirt.

There is no minimum order. And in addition to full meals and desserts, your waiter can also bring you traditional snacks from the concession stand and cocktails from the bar.

The price of a seat is more at Fork and Screen than at the traditional theaters next door, but it’s worth it. They’re very comfortable and roomy. I don’t even mind a stranger sitting directly next to me here as the seats are so big.

Fork & Screen is available to those 18 and over. Children must be accompanied by an adult.



Mickey Transmission Tower

I’m sure many of you have viewed pictures of this Disney World oddity, but I’m guessing that most of you have never seen it in person – a high voltage transmission tower in the shape of Mickey Mouse. Located in Celebration just off of Interstate 4, this tower receives power from an adjacent substation.


Mickey Mouse Transmission Tower


I really can’t tell you much about this tower other than it exists. After scouring the internet, I came up with nothing I could substantiate. One excerpt I found says the creation of this icon was a collaboration between Tampa Electric and Reedy Creek. Another says that the same company that created this tower also made the Olympic Rings for the Atlanta Olympics. I also read that normally a “Y” tower is called for in situations like this but the designers were able to use Mickey to get the job done. (I don’t even know what a “Y” tower is.) I also read the tower is 80 feet tall. However, I can’t corroborate any of this. So this Hodgepodge entry is here only to tell you a Mickey Mouse transmission tower exists. Shocking!

That’s it for this week. Check back next Monday when I revisit Coronado Springs.


April 1, 2014

March Madness Quiz -- Answers

Jack Spence Masthead.jpg


Here are the answers to yesterday's quiz. Let me know if you got all 20 correct.



1. Since its opening on October 1, 1971, the Magic Kingdom has always been open seven days a week. Disney planners knew that their audience would be driving and flying in from great distances and they understood that the park needed to be open every day to accommodate visitors' vacation plans. But that wasn't the case with Disneyland when it first opened on July 17, 1955. Most guests would be making day trips as they lived in the Southern California area. Because of this, Disneyland was closed for two days each week during off season. What two days were they closed?

A. Monday & Tuesday
B. Tuesday & Wednesday
C. Wednesday & Thursday
D. Thursday & Friday
E. The above statement is untrue. Disneyland was always open seven days a week.

A. Disneyland was closed on Mondays & Tuesdays.

In the early years, attendance did not demand seven-day operation. Closing the park for two days each week helped keep costs down and allowed maintenance workers to complete many on-stage tasks out of sight from guests. In addition, nearby Knott's Berry Farm was closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This gave vacationers and day visitors a theme park to visit every day. Disneyland did not begin seven day operation until February 6, 1985.


Disneyland Marquee



2. Where would you find Devil's Elbow at Walt Disney World?

A. Haunted Mansion
B. Tower of Terror
C. Rivers of America
D. Rafiki's Planet Watch
E. None of the above

C. Rivers of America

Along the banks of the Rivers of America are a number of river markers such as Tree Snag Reef, Crawdad Shoals, and Howling Dog Bend. At the north end of Tom Sawyer Island is Devil's Elbow. This is the spot where the Lilly Belle Riverboat makes a sharp turn to return to Liberty Square.


Devil's Elbow

Devil's Elbow



3. Who narrates the Hall of Presidents attraction at the Magic Kingdom?

A. Maya Angelou
B. J.D. Hall
C. Morgan Freeman
D. An uncredited Disney Imagineer
E. None of the above

C. Morgan Freeman

When Bill Clinton was added to the presidential lineup, Maya Angelou narrated the presentation. When George W. Bush was added, J.D. Hall was called upon to tell the story of the chief executives. And when Barack Obama joined this elite club, Morgan Freeman took over the job of narrator.


Hall of Presidents

Hall of Presidents

Morgan Freeman



4. What company was the original sponsor of the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain?

A. FedEx
B. RCA
C. General Electric
D. Monsanto
E. None of the above

B. RCA

RCA was the original sponsor of Space Mountain and helped fund the attraction's construction. Its logo could be seen on the marquee from January 15, 1975 until sponsorship ended in 1994. FedEx took over sponsorship in 1994 and ended its Disney alliance in 2004. Currently, Space Mountain has no corporate affiliation.


RCA Space Mountain Logo

Space Mountain Attraction Poster



5. Tower of Terror sits at the end of Sunset Boulevard at Disney's Hollywood Studios. What other idea did the Imagineers seriously consider for this spot?

A. Mary Poppin's Jolly Holliday
B. The Rocketeer's Flight
C. Cruella de Vil and the 101 Dalmatians
D. Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers
E. None of the above

D. Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers

Disney had very high expectations for their movie “Dick Tracy” starring Warren Beatty. So much so that they put their Imagineers to work planning a new attraction to be titled “Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers.” Designers envisioned guests riding in 1920-style vehicles that would use the same Enhanced Motion Vehicle technology that is now seen on the Indiana Jones Adventure and Dinosaur attractions. Each rider would be equipped with a Tommy gun that used the laser technology found in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. As riders careened through the streets of Chicago, they would aim at a number of “bad guy” targets along the route. Unfortunately, the movie did not live up to expectations and the attraction was shelved.


Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers



6. During the preshow of “Dinosaur” at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Dr. Marsh introduces the audience to the Time Rover, a vehicle that will take us to the early Cretaceous period. However, one of her colleagues has different ideas and reprograms the Time Rover to take us to the late Cretaceous period so we can bring back an iguanodon. What is the name of this second doctor?

A. Dr. Clarence P. Wilkerson
B. Dr. Harry F. Sinclair
C. Dr. Bernard Dunn
D. Dr. Grant Seeker
E. None of the above

D. Dr. Grant Seeker

Phylicia Rashad plays Dr. Helen Marsh and Wallace Langham plays Dr. Grant Seeker. Although neither character's first name is mentioned in the attraction, Dr. Marsh's first name can be found in newspaper clippings posted in Restaurantosaurus. The only first name reference I could find for Dr. Seeker was in Wallace Langham's IMDB webpage.

Grant Seeker… The name is a joke. Think about it.


Dinosaur Attraction

Doctors March and Seeker



7. Who created the voice of Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom?

A. Marni Nixon
B. Eleanor Audley
C. Barbara Billingsley
D. Natalie Schafer
E. None of the above

B. Eleanor Audley

Eleanor Audley voiced Madame Leota in the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansions. However it is Imagineer Leota Toombs' face guests see floating in the crystal ball. Besides Ms. Audley's numerous television appearances, she also voiced Lady Tremaine in the Disney animated film “Cinderella” and Maleficent in “Sleeping Beauty.”


Madame Leota

Eleanor Audley

Maleficent

Eleanor Audley

Lady Tremaine


Regarding option “A”… For those of you not familiar with Marni Nixon, she is known for her “behind-the-curtain” singing voice and has lent her talents to some of Hollywood's greatest stars. She dubbed for Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady,” Natalie Wood in “West Side Story,” and Deborah Kerr in “The King and I.” All of these accomplishments were uncredited and kept secret for many years.

Marni Nixon also has a Disney connection. She was the soloist in the opening sequence of “Cinderella.” The singing flowers in “Alice in Wonderland” owe their vocal talents to her as well as the geese in “Mary Poppins.” And finally, the singing voice of Grandmother Fa in “Mulan” was Marni. Of these, “Mulan” is the only movie in which she received on-screen credit.


Marni Nixon



8. Where in the Magic Kingdom is Mr. Dinglinger referenced?

A. Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland
B. The Chapeau shop on Main Street
C. Prairie Outpost & Supply in Frontierland
D. Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus
E. None of the above

B. The Chapeau shop on Main Street

On the wall in The Chapeau, a small shop located across the street from Tony's Town Square Café, is an old-fashioned telephone. If you lift the receiver and listen, you can hear momma calling Dinglinger's Store to talk to her daughter Annie. This 3½ minute conversation is very amusing. If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend listening in on your next visit. I think you'll enjoy it.

This conversation was one of two originally recorded for the Market House at Disneyland and one version or another has been playing there since the park opened in 1955.

This was a difficult question. Give yourself a bonus point if you got it correct. That is, if you actually knew the answer and you weren't just guessing.


The Chapeau

old-fashioned telephone



9. Who dedicated the Disneyland monorail in June, 1959?

A. Actor Ronald Reagan and family
B. Television Personality Art Linkletter and family
C. California Governor Pat Brown and family
D. Walt's wife Lillian and his two daughters Diane and Sharon
E. None of the above

E. None of the above


Then Vice President Richard Nixon and his family dedicated Walt's newest toy, the Disneyland-Alweg monorail.

At the event, a large pair of scissors were handed to Nixon's two daughters Tricia and Julie to cut the ceremonial ribbon. However, the scissors were made out of wood and would not slice through the ribbon. After several attempts, Walt reached down and tore the ribbon in half by hand.

With the monorail now officially open, Walt and the Nixon family climbed into the monorail cab. At the same time, Art Linkletter, Fred MacMurray, Bob Cummings, and their families climbed into the passenger compartments. Once everyone was onboard, Walt throttled up and the monorail took off, leaving the horrified Secret Service on the boarding platform. After successfully circling Tomorrowland, the monorail returned to the station and was about to stop. The Secret Service took a collective sigh of relief, that is until Tricia and Julie yelled out “Again!” This excited Walt and he took everyone on another trip, leaving Nixon's protection on the station platform for a second time.


Monorail, Walt, and the Nixons

Monorail, Walt, and the Nixons


Below is a Disney created video showing the monorail dedication. Interestingly, the part of Walt ripping the ribbon in two has conveniently been edited out.




10. Who narrated the World of Motion attraction at Epcot?

A. Gary Owens
B. Dick Martin
C. Dan Rowan
D. Arte Johnson
E. None of the above

A. Gary Owens

Gary Owens' career included disc jockey, voice actor, comedian, performer, and writer. But he is probably best remembered as the announcer on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. He was also selected by the Imagineers to give a tongue-in-cheek narration of the World of Motion attraction at Epcot which ran from October 1, 1982 until the ride closed on January 2, 1996. The theme song for the ride was “It's Fun to be Free.” This catchy number was written by X Atencio (also composed "Yo Ho” from Pirates of the Caribbean) and Buddy Baker, another legendary Disney composer.


World of Motion

Gary Owens



11. Who was the original voice of Figment, the iconic character found at the Imagination Pavilion in Epcot?

A. Mel Blanc
B. Tim Curry
C. Billy Barty
D. Kurt Russell
E. None of the above

C. Billy Barty

Film actor and television star Billy Barty had a long and successful career. Although much of his work consisted of bit parts, gag roles, and children's television shows, he was still a recognizable celebrity. People knew the name, Billy Barty. Barty's gravelly voice was perfect for Figment and he lent his talents to this beloved character from 1981 until 1998. Dave Goelz took over the role in 2002.

When EPCOT Center opened, it was Figment's role to be the “cute and lovable” character of the park. The Imagineers wanted to distance EPCOT Center from Mickey and the gang and did not include them in the park's roster of personalities. However, guests complained loudly and it wasn't long before the other Disney characters began appearing in the park.

In 1998, the original “Journey into Imagination” attraction was closed for a major reworking. In 1999, “Journey into YOUR Imagination” opened. However, Figment's role had been reduced to a few cameo appearances and Dreamfinder was absent altogether. Once again, guests complained loudly and the attraction was shuttered once more. In 2002, the ride reopened as “Journey into Imagination with Figment.” This time, Figment is prominently featured, however Dreamfinder is still someplace in oblivion.


Billy Barty

Figment, Dreamfinder, and Eddie



12. What would you find inside the Metropolitan Department of Water and Power building found at Disney's Hollywood Studios?

A. Pizza Planet
B. Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano
C. Restrooms
D. Muppet*Vision 3D
E. None of the above

A. Pizza Planet

This restaurant's interior was inspired by its namesake as seen in the 1995 Disney/Pixar movie “Toy Story.” Although the menu is limited, this counter service restaurant is a good child-pleaser as it has lots of arcade games to keep them entertained before, during, and after their meal. To see the full menu, click here.


Pizza Planet

Pizza Planet

Pizza Planet



13. Before Sunset Blvd was added to the Disney/MGM Studios, what could be found where the entrance to this street now begins?

A. A plywood wall with a plaque reading “DREAM BUILDERS ‘There's enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine'”
B. The original entrance to the Backstage Studio Tour attraction before it was moved to Mickey Avenue
C. A Disney Vacation Club kiosk
D. A scaled down version of the Hollywood Bowl
E. None of the above

D. A scaled down version of the Hollywood Bowl

Original plans for the Disney/MGM Studios called for it to be a “half-day” park. It wasn't intended to be a real competitor to the Magic Kingdom or EPCOT Center. However, from day one, Disney charged the same one-day admission fee for the Studio as they did for their other parks and guests expected more than there was.

Since the Studio was envisioned to be a small park, the Imagineers did not create a grand stage for elaborate shows. Instead, a scaled down replica of the Hollywood Bowl was built were smaller productions could be performed. Notice, there is no overhead canopy to shield guests from the sun and rain.


Hollywood Bowl Replica


Regarding option “B”… When the Disney/MGM Studios opened on May 1, 1989, the original Backstage Studio Tour loaded from Animation Courtyard -- the same place that is now the beginning of the Animation Tour.


Animation Tour


Regarding option “C”… The first Disney Vacation Club did not open until December 20, 1991, over two years after the Studio. At that time, DVC informational kiosks did not appear in the theme parks.



14. What is the name of the fort on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland?

A. Fort Sam Clemens
B. Fort Wilderness
C. Fort Langhorn
D. Fort Outpost
E. None of the above

B. Fort Wilderness

In an effort to capitalize on the success of the Pirate movies, Disney reimagined and renamed Tom Sawyer Island to Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island in 2007. This refurbishment added many new swashbuckling elements to this isolated section of Disneyland. As part of the effort, long-neglected Fort Wilderness was razed and rebuilt. However, it is no longer open to the public and now serves as a break area for cast members.


Fort Wilderness


Regarding answers “A” and “C”…

When Tom Sawyer Island first opened in the Magic Kingdom, the fort was named Fort Sam Clemens (Mark Twain's real name). In later years, it was renamed Fort Langhorn, the middle name of Sam Clemens. It's interesting to note, his actual middle name is spelled with an “e” at the end Langhorne.


Fort Langhorn



15. What is the name of the clock tower that stands beside the Pirates of the Caribbean entrance in the Magic Kingdom?

A. Torre del Sol
B. Torre del Cielo
C. Torre de los Amigos
D. Torre del los Piratas
E. None of the above

B. Torre del Cielo

You should have all gotten this question correct since I gave you the answer in last week's article about Adventureland. Torre del Cielo means Tower of the Sky. It is fashioned after a Caribbean-style watchtower that guarded many island harbors.


Torre del Cielo

Torre del Cielo



16. Speaking of Pirates of the Caribbean… What is the name of the town that the pirates pillage and plunder and rifle and loot?

A. Castillo del Morro
B. Puerto Dorado
C. Puerto de Tesoro
D. Ciudad Tranquila
E. None of the above

B. Puerto Dorado

This was a very difficult question as the answer cannot be found within the attraction. It can only be found in books and archives. Puerto Dorado means Golden Port.


Puerto Dorado


Regarding answer “A”… Castillo del Morro is the name of the fortress that houses the attraction at the Magic Kingdom.


Castillo del Morro



17. What is the name of the backup group that accompanies Sonny Eclipse at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom?

A. The Astro Girls
B. The Space Angels
C. The Cosmic Gals
D. The Mars Maidens
E. None of the above

B. The Space Angels.

Although invisible, Sonny Eclipse references the Space Angels several times during his 25-minute routine.


Sonny Eclipse



18. Electric Umbrella is a counter service restaurant located in Innoventions East at Epcot. What was the original name of this dining establishment?

A. Stargate
B. Sunshine Terrace
C. Future World Foods (or FWF)
D. CommuniCore Verandah
E. It was always called Electric Umbrella

A. Stargate

Stargate was the original counter service restaurant in CommuniCore East. It closed on April 10, 1994 as part of the transition from CommuniCore to Innoventions. Electric Umbrella opened in this same location on June 24 of the same year.


Stargate Restaurant


Regarding option “B”… Sunshine Terrace was another EPCOT Center counter service restaurant and was located in CommuniCore West. It also changed its name and theming around this same time as Stargate and became Pasta Piazza Ristorante. However, this spot closed on April 22, 2001 and this space is now used as a character meet-&-greet area.



19. The California Grill is one of Disney World's most popular restaurants. What originally occupied this spot when the Contemporary Resort first opened?

A. Contemporary Grill
B. Restaurant 15
C. Top of the World
D. Gulf Coast Room
E. This spot has always been the California Grill

C. Top of the World

When the Contemporary Resort opened in 1971, the fifteenth floor of this A-frame building housed the Top of the World restaurant. For the first ten years of operation, named entertainers performed on a stage located in the southwest corner of the restaurant. A full orchestra backed them up and provided music for dancing. This arrangement continued until June 29, 1981 when it was replaced by a permanent show called “Broadway at the Top.” This production featured two men and three women performing a medley of Broadway show tunes. The Top of the World restaurant closed on September 30, 1993 and officially opened as the California Grill on May 15, 1995. To pay tribute to this original name, the lounge at the top of Bay Lake Tower was named Top of the World.


Top of the World

Top of the World

Top of the World

Broadway at the Top


Regarding option “D”… The Gulf Coast Room was a restaurant located on the Contemporary's fourth floor. This establishment closed in 1988.



20. On what date did Roy E. Disney dedicate Walt Disney World?

A. October 1, 1971
B. October 2, 1971
C. October 25, 1971
D. November 1, 1971
E. None of the above

E. None of the above

Roy Edward Disney never dedicated any Disney park. However, his father Roy Oliver Disney dedicated Walt Disney World on October 25, 1971.


Roy Oliver Disney and Mickey Mouse


March 31, 2014

March Madness Quiz -- Questions

Jack Spence Masthead.jpg


It's quiz time again. Below are 20 questions to test your Disney knowledge. Some are easy. Some are difficult. And a few are darn near impossible. Check back tomorrow for the answers.

As with all of my quizzes, it is just for fun. No winners will be announced and no prizes awarded.



1. Since its opening on October 1, 1971, the Magic Kingdom has always been open seven days a week. Disney planners knew that their audience would be driving and flying in from great distances and they understood that the park needed to be open every day to accommodate visitors' vacation plans. But that wasn't the case with Disneyland when it first opened on July 17, 1955. Most guests would be making day trips as they lived in the Southern California area. Because of this, Disneyland was closed for two days each week during off season. What two days were they closed?

A. Monday & Tuesday
B. Tuesday & Wednesday
C. Wednesday & Thursday
D. Thursday & Friday
E. The above statement is untrue. Disneyland was always open seven days a week.



2. Where would you find Devil's Elbow at Walt Disney World?

A. Haunted Mansion
B. Tower of Terror
C. Rivers of America
D. Rafiki's Planet Watch
E. None of the above



3. Who narrates the Hall of Presidents attraction at the Magic Kingdom?

A. Maya Angelou
B. J.D. Hall
C. Morgan Freeman
D. An uncredited Disney Imagineer
E. None of the above



4. What company was the original sponsor of the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain?

A. FedEx
B. RCA
C. General Electric
D. Monsanto
E. None of the above



5. Tower of Terror sits at the end of Sunset Boulevard at Disney's Hollywood Studios. What other idea did the Imagineers seriously consider for this spot?

A. Mary Poppin's Jolly Holliday
B. The Rocketeer's Flight
C. Cruella de Vil and the 101 Dalmatians
D. Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers
E. None of the above


6. During the preshow of “Dinosaur” at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Dr. Marsh introduces the audience to the Time Rover, a vehicle that will take us to the early Cretaceous period. However, one of her colleagues has different ideas and reprograms the Time Rover to take us to the late Cretaceous period so we can bring back an iguanodon. What is the name of this second doctor?

A. Dr. Clarence P. Wilkerson
B. Dr. Harry F. Sinclair
C. Dr. Bernard Dunn
D. Dr. Grant Seeker
E. None of the above



7. Who created the voice of Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom?

A. Marni Nixon
B. Eleanor Audley
C. Barbara Billingsley
D. Natalie Schafer
E. None of the above



8. Where in the Magic Kingdom is Mr. Dinglinger referenced?

A. Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland
B. The Chapeau shop on Main Street
C. Prairie Outpost & Supply in Frontierland
D. Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus
E. None of the above



9. Who dedicated the Disneyland monorail in June, 1959?

A. Actor Ronald Reagan and family
B. Television Personality Art Linkletter and family
C. California Governor Pat Brown and family
D. Walt's wife Lillian and his two daughters Diane and Sharon
E. None of the above



10. Who narrated the World of Motion attraction at Epcot?

A. Gary Owens
B. Dick Martin
C. Dan Rowan
D. Arte Johnson
E. None of the above



11. Who was the original voice of Figment, the iconic character found at the Imagination Pavilion in Epcot?

A. Mel Blanc
B. Tim Curry
C. Billy Barty
D. Kurt Russell
E. None of the above



12. What would you find inside the Metropolitan Department of Water and Power building found at Disney's Hollywood Studios?

A. Pizza Planet
B. Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano
C. Restrooms
D. Muppet*Vision 3D
E. None of the above



13. Before Sunset Blvd was added to the Disney/MGM Studios, what could be found where the entrance to this street now begins?

A. A plywood wall with a plaque reading “DREAM BUILDERS ‘There's enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.'”
B. The original entrance to the Backstage Studio Tour attraction before it was moved to Mickey Avenue.
C. A Disney Vacation Club kiosk.
D. A scaled down version of the Hollywood Bowl.
E. None of the above.



14. What is the name of the fort on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland?

A. Fort Sam Clemens
B. Fort Wilderness
C. Fort Langhorn
D. Fort Outpost
E. None of the above



15. What is the name of the clock tower that stands beside the Pirates of the Caribbean entrance in the Magic Kingdom?

A. Torre del Sol
B. Torre del Cielo
C. Torre de los Amigos
D. Torre del los Piratas
E. None of the above



16. Speaking of Pirates of the Caribbean… What is the name of the town that the pirates pillage and plunder and rifle and loot?

A. Castillo del Morro
B. Puerto Dorado
C. Puerto de Tesoro
D. Ciudad Tranquila
E. None of the above



17. What is the name of the backup group that accompanies Sonny Eclipse at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom?


A. The Astro Girls
B. The Space Angels
C. The Cosmic Gals
D. The Mars Maidens
E. None of the above



18. Electric Umbrella is a counter service restaurant located in Innoventions East at Epcot. What was the original name of this dining establishment?

A. Stargate
B. Sunshine Terrace
C. Future World Foods (or FWF)
D. CommuniCore Verandah
E. It was always called Electric Umbrella



19. The California Grill is one of Disney World's most popular restaurants. What originally occupied this spot when the Contemporary Resort first opened?

A. Contemporary Grill
B. Restaurant 15
C. Top of the World
D. Gulf Coast Room
E. This spot has always been the California Grill



20. On what date did Roy E. Disney dedicate Walt Disney World?

A. October 1, 1971
B. October 2, 1971
C. October 25, 1971
D. November 1, 1971
E. None of the above



March 24, 2014

Magic Kingdom's Adventureland - Part Three of Three

Jack Spence Masthead


Last Thursday I discussed the architecture of the Agrabah section of Adventureland and The Flying Carpets of Aladdin, the Sunshine Tree Terrace, tiki gods, and why Pirates of the Caribbean was added to the Magic Kingdom as an afterthought. Today I'll continue where I left off.

I have never written an article about the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and I probably never will. The topic is just too large to cover in a two or three-part blog. In fact, an entire book has been written on this subject. If you're interested in a detailed history of this attraction, check out Amazon and look for “Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies” by Jason Surrell. I have this book and it is very interesting and chock-full of wonderful information and illustrations. Although I won't be writing about the attraction and its history here, I would still like to point out a few interesting facts found in this area.

The structure that houses Pirates is called Castillo del Morro. The Imagineers based many elements of this fortress on Castillo de San Felipe del Morro located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


Pirates of the Caribbean Exterior

Pirates of the Caribbean Exterior

Pirates of the Caribbean Exterior

Pirates of the Caribbean Exterior


The clock tower is named Torre del Cielo. This means Tower of the Sky. It is styled after a Caribbean-style watchtower that guarded many island harbors.


Torre del Cielo

Torre del Cielo


If you remember your Disneyland history, you know that an AudioAnimatronics barker bird was placed near the entrance of the Enchanted Tiki Room when the attraction first opened to help draw guests inside.


Tiki Room Barker Bird


The Imagineers did the same thing with Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom. Here, they placed a peg-legged, tattoo sporting parrot near the ride's entrance to help lure guests onto the ride. With “"Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)” playing in the background, this salty ol' mate said such things as:

Heave to, maties! There be long boats waiting down by Pirates Cove (whistle) ... waitin' to take ya to the Spanish Main! (squawk) Right this way! Through the arches and down past the dungeons, in the old fortress. (whistle) We sail with the tide, sail with the tide! (squawk) Don't miss the boat, maties!

If you be seeking adventure and salty old pirates, (squawks) salty old pirates, salty old pirates! (whistles) We pillage and plunder! Rifle and loot! Yo ho, me hearties, yo ho! (squawks and whistles)”


Pirates of the Caribbean Barker Bird

Pirates of the Caribbean Barker Bird


Alas, the barker parrot was removed in 2006 and moved to the “Boys Apparel and Toy” section of the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney. But a more recent remodeling of this shop has seen him disappear completely.

At the same time they removed the parrot, the Imagineers also did away with the original attraction sign and replaced it with a ship's mast and crow's nest. Stationed high above is a skeleton with spyglass, checking on all those who dare to enter his lair.


Old Pirate Exterior

New Pirate Exterior

Crow's Nest


Another fixture that was removed were two pedestals with ornamental brass plates, advertising the attraction.


Pirate Sign

Pirate Sign


Even though the basic Pirate attraction was scaled down from the original at Disneyland (Disneyland 15:30 minutes / Magic Kingdom 8:30 minutes), the Magic Kingdom's version had by far the superior queue. In fact, at the time, it was the most elaborate queue ever imagined for a Disney attraction.


Pirate Queue

Pirate Queue

Pirate Queue

Pirate Queue


The queue is two sided and the sites and props are different depending on which one you enter. One bit of Disney trivia can be found on the right side. Through one of the dungeon cell windows are two skeletons playing a game of chess. Legend has it that Marc Davis carefully arranged the pieces so that any move would result in a stalemate. As neither proud player would admit to a tie, they died playing the game and are here to this day. Sometime in the 1990's, the attraction received a major refurbishment and the chess pieces were moved – and no one knew how to correctly replace them. Then, as luck would have it, someone found some of Marc's original sketches and the game was restored.


Chess Game

AdventureMarc Davis Diagram


This story has its share of doubters. I browsed one website were an individual had taken numerous photographs of the cellmates, month after month, year after year. The chess pieces were forever moving as janitorial and other influences disturbed them. If this story was really true, why weren't the pieces glued to the board?

On another site, someone knowledgeable of chess claims that the “correct” placement does not end in a stalemate. They also state that the “correct” placement of the pieces would be impossible to achieve in a true chess match.

I have no idea what is and isn't true here, but it is a wonderful Disney legend none the less.

As with so many Disney attractions, guests exit Pirates of the Caribbean through a shop. Naturally, a wide array of pirate merchandise is available. And with the arrival of the Pirate movie franchise, even more goodies are here to tempt your children.


Pirate Shop

Pirate Shop


Next door to this shop is Pirates League. This is the male version of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Here, boys and men (and girls and women) can receive a buccaneer makeover. I received a new persona when this spot opened in spring, 2009. To learn more about my experience and this shop, click here.


Pirates League

Pirates League


After exiting the shop, take a look around. Next to Castillo del Morro, the Imagineers have created a seaport town reminiscent of the British and Spanish colonies of the 17th and 18th century West Indies.


Plaza del Sol

Plaza del Sol

Plaza del Sol

Plaza del Sol


Across Plaza del Sol is the only establishment where guests can purchase a full meal in Adventureland. Originally called El Pirata Y el Perico (The Pirate and the Parrot), this spot was recently renamed Tortuga Tavern to tie it into the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Notice how the exterior of this building looks like multiple businesses, with the main entrance resembling a tavern where pirates might have enjoyed a glass of grub and grog.


Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern


Tortuga Tavern is a counter service restaurant that sells Americanized Mexican food. A nearby topping bar allows guest to create their own taco salads and embellish other items. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. This restaurant is open seasonally. To see their menu, click here.


Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern


Hanging near the food ordering station is a sign announcing the Tortuga Tavern Code of Conduct. After each “official” rule is a handwritten addendum. As I know most of you will never read this sign while visiting Adventureland, I will post the rules here.


Tortuga Tavern Code of Conduct


Every man has equal title to fresh provisions – iffin he has the gold

Ye fair ladies shall be treated in a favorable manner – wenches be not fair ladies

A witness shall be present for gaming at cards or dice – Short Drop and Sudden Stop for cheatin scallywags

Duels by cutlass or pistol shall be taken outside with witness – ye witness must have one good eye

Damages unto an establishment shall be paid in gold, doubloons, or pieces of eight – parrots be not legal tender – ye be warned


As you might know, the Imagineers like to pay homage to old attractions and facilities when they are replaced by something new. Tortuga Tavern continues this tradition. In the rafters you'll find the old El Pirata Y el Perico keg that once was the marquee for this establishment.


El Pirata Y el Perico keg


There is an interior walkway that connects the Tortuga Tavern dining room with the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café dining room, however, it is not always open. When it is, it makes searching for a table a little easier on busy days.

Next to Tortuga Tavern is La Fuente de la Fortuna (The Fountain of Fortune). This represents the town's well where families fetched their daily bucket of water and gossiped with their neighbors. Today, the fountain seems to be a little overgrown.


La Fuente de la Fortuna


Next to the fountain is the Plaza del Sol Stage. Several times a day, Jack Sparrow and his first mate entertain guests with their antics in a show titled “Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial.”


Plaza del Sol Stage

First Mate

Jack Sparrow


Once the show gets underway, Jack selects four children from the audience where he will teach them the “Jack Sparrow” technique of swordsmanship.


Pirate Tutorial

Pirate Tutorial

Pirate Tutorial


When the swordplay concludes, Jack selects about 20 more children from the audience to come up on stage. They are all given scrolls and then they must swear their allegiance to Jack and the pirate way of life.


Pirate Tutorial


During the 20 minute performance, a Disney photographer is on hand to capture the moments. When the show ends, she hands out PhotoPasses to all that wish them.


Disney photographer


Although adults will appreciate some of Jack's jokes, this show is more aimed at children. If your child wishes to be picked as one of the four swordsmen, then I suggest arriving a few minutes before the performance. It seems that children standing in the front row have the best chance of being selected. Check your Times Guide for times.

The Imagineers purposely chose Spanish influenced architecture for this section of Adventureland. This helps provide a seamless transition between this part of the park and the Spanish influence American West of adjoining Frontierland.

Technically, this arch represents the end of Adventureland and the beginning of Frontierland, but there is one more Adventureland attraction on the other side.


Adventureland/Frontierland Arch


For years, a shop called “The Crow's Nest” was located in a small, standalone building just beyond the arch. It sold Kodak film and assorted souvenirs.


The Crow's Nest


After Kodak ended its Disney sponsorship, this shop was converted into a new attraction, “A Pirate's Adventure – Treasures of the Seven Seas.”


A Pirate's Adventure ��

A Pirate's Adventure ��


“A Pirate's Adventure” is similar in concept to “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” on Main Street and “Phineas and Ferb” at Epcot, except this game is confined within Adventureland.

Guests enter this building and discover they're in a map room. The walls are covered with maps, charts, and navigation tools. A cast member instructs one person of your party to place their wristband or admission ticket on a starfish design found on one of the maps. This action will select one of five treasure maps for you to follow.


Map Room

Map Room

Map Room


Each map contains four to six treasure locations. Each location is marked by a special emblem. Some of these are a skull & crossbones, a parrot, a snake, palm trees, and a cannon. After reaching your first location, you tap your wristband or ticket on the emblem. This activates some activity or voice, giving you clues to the next location to visit. Some of these clues are vocal instructions, but others feature simple AudioAnimatronics. You might see a parrot talk, skeletons appear from beneath the water, or a treasure chest open wide.


A Pirate's Adventure

A Pirate's Adventure

A Pirate's Adventure

A Pirate's Adventure


When you have found all of the treasure on your map, you can go back to the starting point for another hunt until you've completed all five adventures. It takes about 15 minutes to complete one treasure search.

Beneath the Adventureland/Frontierland arch, several businesses have set up shop. One of these is Arribas Brothers. These enterprising fellows sell crystal works of art and jewelry. Across the way, another merchant sells hand-crafted rings. Here you can have you name or initials carved into brass, sterling silver, and gold.


Arribas Brothers

Ring Cutter

Ring Cutter


This winds up my look at Adventureland. As you can see, there is a lot to offer in this section of the Magic Kingdom. Walt's original idea for a jungle cruise based on his True Life Adventure films sparked quiet an elaborate undertaking. So next time you visit Adventureland, slow down and smell the roses. Try to walk to Pirates of the Caribbean, not run, and notice some of what I've pointed out here.


March 20, 2014

Magic Kingdom's Adventureland - Part Two of Three

Jack Spence Masthead


In Part One of this article I discussed the history of Adventureland, the entrance into this exotic land, the Adventureland Verandah restaurant, and Aloha Isle, home of the Dole whip. Today I'm going to continue my journey through this colorful area of the Magic Kingdom.

The Swiss Family Treehouse was an opening day Magic Kingdom attraction. Although it is skipped by many, others consider it a “must see” on every visit. This simple walk-thru attraction can also be found at Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland offer a similar attraction with Tarzan's Treehouse. Since I have written an entire article on the Swiss Family Treehouse in the past, I will not be covering it here. To find out more about this Disneyodendron eximus (out-of-the-ordinary Disney tree), click here.


Swiss Family Treehouse


One of the busiest set of restrooms at the Magic Kingdom can be found in the breezeway that connects Adventureland with Frontierland. Recently updated and expanded, these facilities are convenient to most of the nearby attractions. In addition, the breezeway is one of the best areas for those waiting for friends and family to finish their business. Even on the hottest days, it's usually somewhat comfortable inside this corridor.


Adventureland Restrooms

Adventureland Restrooms


To the east of this breezeway, the buildings have a tropical feel (as seen in Part One of this article). To the west they take on an arid quality that might suggest Northern Africa.


Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture


Inside these buildings are Island Supply Imports and Zanzibar Trading Company. These convincingly themed shops carry a wide variety of tropical and explorer-style clothing. And unlike so many other shops, you can also find a decent selection of non-Disney merchandise. Of course, the typical souvenirs are also available.


Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops


As we continue exploring the north side of Adventureland, the buildings take on a distinctive Middle Eastern look. Merchants have set up colorful tents to tempt the passing caravans.


Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops


Elephant Tales can be found beneath these canopies. Besides more Disney souvenirs, this shop offers exotic items like drums, bamboo wind chines, and rubber snakes.


Elephant Tales

Elephant Tales

Elephant Tales

Elephant Tales

Elephant Tales


When browsing any of the Adventureland shops, be sure to look up and notice the ceilings. Just like everything else, they are themed appropriately.


Adventureland Shop Ceilings

Adventureland Shop Ceilings

Adventureland Shop Ceilings

Adventureland Shop Ceilings


Next to Elephant Tales is Agrabah Bazaar. This is a meet-&-greet site for Aladdin and Jasmine.


Agrabah Bazaar

Agrabah Bazaar


While in this area, be sure to look at the ground. Jewels, tiles, and coins can be found imbedded into the pavement.


Adventureland Pavement

Adventureland Pavement

Adventureland Pavement


And while you're looking down, don't forget to look up again. There is an abundance of details to be seen on the second stories and roofs.


Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs

Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs

Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs

Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs

Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs

Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs


Of course, this section of Adventureland didn't always look like this. Before 2001, this area had a completely different feel – a feel more of Africa than Agrabah. In fact, if you look closely at the third picture below, you just might be able to make out the word “LION” as in “LION KING.”


Early Adventureland

Early Adventureland

Early Adventureland

Early Adventureland

Early Adventureland

Early Adventureland


On May 24, 2001, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin opened. With this new attraction came a re-theming of the surrounding buildings. Now the mysterious Middle East would be included in this land of adventure.


The Magic Carpets of Aladdin


Although the courtyard here was large, it wasn't quite large enough to hold this new attraction. A sizable planter and tree needed to be removed and part of the rockwork lining the Tiki Room had to be repositioned before construction could begin. Although I applaud the decision to add a new attraction into Adventureland, the area is now tight and very congested on busy days.


Tiki Room Remodel


Based on the 1992 film “Aladdin,” The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is a ride similar in design to Dumbo. Here, a rotating center pylon supports 16 flying carpets, each capable of holding four guests. The front seat features a joystick that controls the height of the carpet and the backseat has a lever that regulates the forward and backward pitch. The ride lasts approximately ninety seconds. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin opened on May 24, 2001 and was recently added to the FastPass+ roster of attractions.


The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin


Positioned around the attraction are two spitting camels. One aims for passing pedestrians while the other targets those flying by. Don't worry. The camels are smart enough to stop their mischievous ways when the weather is cool.


Spitting Camel

Spitting Camel

Spitting Camel


Check out this two minute video of the Flying Carpets of Aladdin.



Across from The Flying Carpets of Aladdin is a unique outdoor-foods cart. This one sells both pork and vegetable eggrolls (and corn dogs). The eggrolls taste pretty good and are definitely a change from so much of the other quick service food found around the park.


Outdoor Food Cart

Egg Rolls


Further down the pathway we come across six tiki gods designed by Disney Legend Marc Davis. When originally installed, these humorous fellows were simply a show piece with no water feature. However, rain, humidity, and human contact took their toll on these wooden fellows and eventually they needed to be replaced.

Within WDI (Walt Disney Imagineering) is a program called SQS (Show Quality Standards). It is these operating standards that insure that any replacement, change, or addition made within the parks is consistent with the original design intent.

When it came time to replace these tikis, the Imagineers knew they wanted to retain the humor Marc Davis was going for when he created them years earlier. However, the Imagineers also knew they wanted to “plus” the exhibit. Working with Park Operations and SQS, they crafted new tikis out of more durable fiberglass. They also enhanced the tikis with the ability to create a steamy backdrop and squirt passersby with streams of water.

If you look closely at the first two pictures below, you can see a few differences. The first picture depicts how the exhibit looks today. The second shows how it looked a number of years ago. Notice the color difference. Also notice that the first picture has a drain hole for the water while the second does not.


Tiki Gods

Tiki Gods

Tiki Gods


The tikis offer another wonderful photo opportunity. By the way, that's a much younger me in the second picture.

These tiki gods act as a tie-in to Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room which is located just across the walkway. They were/are a transition from the African/Middle Eastern backdrop of the plaza area to the more tropical environment of birds, flowers, and more tikis found in the nearby attraction.

At Disneyland, the Tiki Room was tucked into a small space just past the Adventureland entrance. Considering it was the first real Audio-Animatronics attraction, its location was rather uninspiring. When it came time to build the Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers wanted to give this attraction the exterior façade it deserved. To that end, an eight-story pagoda was created to anchor the show. In addition, the exterior walls were ornately decorated with a South Pacific tribal motif.


Tiki Room Exterior

Tiki Room Exterior

Tiki Room Exterior

Tiki Room Exterior

Tiki Room Exterior


The finials on the roof of the Tiki Room are another great example of Disney detailing. Since they would be seen from both Adventureland and Frontierland, they had to be appropriate for both locales. But how do you make the South Pacific blend with the American West? By placing water buffalos on the roof peaks. From Adventureland, they fit in perfectly. And in Frontierland, where they are only seen from a distance, they resemble longhorn steer. The first two pictures were taken from Adventureland, the next two from Frontierland.


Water Buffalos

Water Buffalos

Water Buffalos.jpg

Water Buffalos


Since I have already written an extensive article about the Tiki Room, I will not be discussing it in detail here. To read this piece, click here.

Next to the Tiki Room is the Sunshine Tree Terrace. This is a wonderful place to grab a bite to eat and a refreshing drink. Their specialty is the Citrus Swirl (orange slush with vanilla soft-serve ice cream). It's kind of the “orange” version of a Dole Whip. To see their full menu, click here.


Sunshine Tree Terrace

Sunshine Tree Terrace


Located next to this establishment are a few tables and chairs. Note, this is a popular place and finding a vacancy here can be tricky. While enjoying your Citrus Swirl, be sure to look around and notice some of the detailing. Some of it is rather macabre.


Sunshine Tree Terrace

Sunshine Tree Terrace

Sunshine Tree Terrace

Sunshine Tree Terrace


You might also notice a cute little bird perched above the restaurant's main sign. This is the Little Orange Bird and it pays homage to some of Adventureland's early history.


Orange Bird


In 1970, WED Enterprises created the Orange Bird character to serve as the Florida Citrus Growers' mascot at the park and in other promotional advertisements. The Orange Bird could often be seen at the Sunshine Tree Terrace greeting guests and posing for pictures. The Sherman Brothers wrote a song about our feathered friend and Anita Bryant recorded it.


Orange Bird

Orange Bird


Notice in the above picture, the Orange Bird is standing where The Magic Carpets of Aladdin sits today.

Florida Citrus Growers ended their sponsorship in 1986 and the Orange Bird slipped into Disney history. However, this character had a resurgence at Tokyo Disneyland in 2004 to coincide with Japan's annual Orange Day celebration held on April 14th.

To help recognize Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary in 2011, the Orange Bird was brought back in a small way at Sunshine Tree Pavilion with souvenir Orange Bird cups. Other new merchandise can be found in the nearby shops.


Orange Bird Cup


Next to Sunshine Tree Terrace is a cut through to Frontierland. This can be a handy route in which to traverse between the two lands.


Walkway to Frontierland


Behind the Marc Davis tikis is a large expanse. This is another example of the Imagineers greatly increasing the Magic Kingdom's version of Adventureland as compared to the original Disneyland edition.


Jungle Cruise Expanse


Some of you might have noticed a small shack in this area. Called “The Oasis,” this stand sold soft drinks and sandwiches in the early years of Adventureland.


The Oasis

The Oasis


Behind this shack is a body of water. This “river” was originally used by the Swan Boats as they circled Swiss Family Treehouse on their way back to the Hub. Years later, this waterway was cordoned off and Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats was installed.

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats allowed wannabe skippers the ability to pilot miniature boats via radio controlled remote controls. Captains would pilot their boats through a number of obstacles and of course, try to ram other boats while in the process. This attraction was not included in the basic admission price and required additional funds to play.


Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats


Several years ago, Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats was closed and removed. It was a tired attraction and Disney needed this space for stroller parking. If you look around, you can see the original signpost for Shrunken Ned's, minus the lettering.


Stroller Parking

Former Shrunken Ned's Sign


To the west of this waterway is one of the most famous of all Disney attractions, the Jungle Cruise.


Jungle Cruise Entrance


The Jungle Cruise is a very popular attraction. However, in the morning, most guests skip it for the more popular “Mountains of the Magic Kingdom.” This attraction is usually a “walk on” for the first 30-45 minutes after park opening.

Like the Swiss Family Treehouse and the Tiki Room, I have already written about the Jungle Cruise in detail. To check it out, click here.

Note, the old FastPass distribution area near the entrance to the Jungle Cruise has been converted into a FastPass+ distribution area.

Leaving the Jungle Cruise and the Tiki Room, we stroll down a long walkway towards Pirates of the Caribbean. Because of the proliferation of strollers over the years, Disney has had to dedicate a large section of this area to their parking. If you want to capture a picture of this section of Adventureland without strollers, you need to do it first thing in the morning.


Stroller Parking

Stroller Parking


Next to the stroller parking is another yummy outdoor food cart. This one sells cinnamon glazed almonds. They're delicious.


Outdoor Food Cart

Cinnamon Glazed Almonds


Pirates of the Caribbean was never intended to be a Magic Kingdom attraction. The powers-that-be felt that Orlando's proximity to the real Caribbean would lessen the appeal of this Disneyland classic. Instead, the Imagineers wanted to build Western River Expedition, an “E” ticket attraction to be located in Frontierland.

This next picture is an excerpt from the first souvenir map sold of the Magic Kingdom. As you can see, there is nothing in the area that would someday be occupied by Pirates of the Caribbean.


First Magic Kingdom Map


Western River Expedition would have been similar in scope and design to Pirates of the Caribbean. But instead of featuring swashbucklers, it would showcase cowboys and Indians in numerous comical scenes, many designed by Marc Davis. Guests would ride in boats through the American West and encounter a brand new set of characters unique to the Magic Kingdom. The attraction would have been part of a huge complex to be known as Thunder Mesa. Western River Expedition would have been located at ground level and Big Thunder Mountain would sit on top. However, things didn't work out that way.


Western River Expedition

Western River Expedition


From day one, Guest Relations was inundated with complaints about the omission of Pirates of the Caribbean. When it became obvious that these negative comments weren't going to subside, Card Walker (Disney CEO) decided to put the Thunder Mesa complex on hold and build a scaled down version of the California Pirate attraction in Adventureland. Plans were hastily drawn up and within six months of the Magic Kingdom opening, the announcement was made that Pirates of the Caribbean was coming to Walt Disney World. To help spread the news, the cast members working in City Hall started wearing buttons that said, “The Pirates Are Coming! Christmas 1973!" And sure enough, they opened just in time, December 15, 1973.


Pirates of the Caribbean


That's it for Part Two. Check back Monday for Part Three.


March 17, 2014

Magic Kingdom's Adventureland - Part One of Three

Jack Spence Masthead


Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Adventureland had been located on the east side of the Magic Kingdom? To walk the length of Main Street and then turn right if you wanted to ride on the Jungle Cruise. There was no reason the Imagineers couldn't have done this. After all, the Walt Disney World property was all virgin land. The planners could have arranged things pretty much anyway they wanted. Given this scenario, perhaps the Polynesian Resort would sit where the Contemporary now stands to add a tropical background to this exotic land. Well, this possibility isn't as farfetched as you might think. It could have happened. As we know, the Imagineers used Disneyland's basic layout when planning the Magic Kingdom.

But you're saying to yourself, Disneyland's Adventureland is located in approximately the same vicinity to the Hub as the Magic Kingdom's version of this land – on the west side of the park. But this almost wasn't the case. The concepts for Disneyland's Adventureland began their existence on the east side of the park. This can be seen in an early Herb Ryman sketch and a Marvin Davis map. If you could actually read these maps, you would see that “True Life Adventures” (what would become Adventureland) is to the right of the Hub, approximately where Space Mountain and the Autopia sit today. Circus Land was slotted to be where the Jungle Cruise would eventually be located.


Disneyland Concept Map

Disneyland Concept Map


So why did the Imagineers change their minds and move this land? Two reasons: space and a stand of eucalyptus trees.

As ideas for “True Life Adventures” increased, it was realized that Adventureland would need more space to hold all of Walt's ideas. The Ryman sketch had this exotic land squeezed between “World of Tomorrow” and Main Street. This area was far too confining.

After the property for Disneyland was purchased, planners found a windbreak of giant eucalyptus trees that had been planted around the turn of the century. Ironically, these trees helped determine the location of Main Street as it was decided that they would make a nice backdrop behind City Hall and help delineate between “civilization” and the “jungles of the world.” Thus, Adventureland was moved to its current location on the west side of the park.


Disneyland City Hall


These eucalyptus trees still stand today.


Disneyland City Hall


One of the original ideas for the Jungle Cruise had guests traveling down only one river, the Suwannee if Africa. But Harper Goff knew that the attraction needed more variety and pitched the idea of a skipper taking guests down a collection of exotic rivers found all over the globe. The working name for this attraction was “Tropical Rivers of the World.” This proposal transformed Adventureland into a non-specific location. During the design phase of Adventureland, Walt said:

“The spirit of adventure is often linked with exotic tropic places. To create a land which would make this dream reality, we pictured ourselves far from civilization, in the remote jungles of Asia and Africa. The result is Adventureland, ‘the wonderland of nature's own design.'”

The vast majority of the land set aside for Adventureland was taken up by a single attraction, the Jungle Cruise. This left very little pedestrian space to convey the vast exotic locales Walt wanted guests to experience. All Adventureland really consisted of was a narrow walkway that led from the Hub to Frontierland (now New Orleans Square). There was very little space in which to excite your senses. The Swiss Family Treehouse and the Safari Shooting Gallery didn't' open until 1962 and Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room didn't debut until the following year. Even today, Adventureland's main thoroughfare is a very confining area.


Disneyland's Adventureland

Disneyland's Adventureland


When planning the Magic Kingdom's version of Adventureland, the Imagineers wanted to correct this shortcoming and create an area that allowed guests to be immersed in the faraway lands that most of us only dream of experiencing. To that end, they created a much larger pedestrian expanse where visitors can be totally immersed in their surroundings.

The Crystal Palace acts as the transition piece that ties Main Street and Adventureland together. Based on the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, New York's Crystal Palace, and Kew Gardens in England, this Victorian structure helps visitors prepare for the colonial architecture they're about to experience around the next corner.


Crystal Palace


The main entrance into Adventureland is via a wooden bridge radiating off of the Hub. Up until a few years ago, this bridge was arched to allow the Swan Boats (1972-1983) to pass beneath. The bridge's wooden planks were also ribbed to reduce guests slipping when the walkway was wet. This made for a noisy and difficult journey for those in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller. However, when age dictated that the bridge be completely rebuilt, this arch was removed and the ribbing eliminated. This created a level walking surface with no annoying obstructions. Now it is a much easier journey into Adventureland.

If you look at these next two pictures carefully, you can see the rise in the bridge in the first picture and the flattened surface in the second. It's more obvious if you look at the railing.


Adventureland Entrance

Adventureland Entrance


But before you get to this bridge, the entrance to Adventureland has another welcoming landmark. To the right of the pathway is a planter made out of volcanic rock. This is a wonderful spot to pose group pictures. And just like the bridge, this planter has gone through a few changes over the years.

When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, the planter sported a prominent “Adventureland” sign. In subsequent years, the sign was moved to a less obvious position at the back of the planter and several tiki poles were added. Today, the sign is gone completely.


Adventureland Entrance Planter

Adventureland Entrance Planter

Adventureland Entrance Planter


The Adventureland entrance arch has also undergone a few changes. The current incarnation (third picture) features a more sinister look with a large collection of spears and the addition of human skulls.


Adventureland Entrance Arch

Adventureland Entrance Arch

Adventureland Entrance Arch


As you enter Adventureland, you'll find Bwana Bob's to the left. This outdoor shop sells a few Adventureland-themed items, but mostly generic Disney souvenirs. Bottled water is also available.


Bwana Bob's


Across from Bwana Bob's is a lovely covered patio. This area has been used as a meet-&-greet area in the past, but currently this space offers a FastPast+ distribution point.


FastPast+ distribution point

FastPast+ distribution point

FastPast+ distribution point


Next to this patio is “Tinker Bell's Magical Nook.” This is the spot to meet Tink and some of her fairy friends.


Tinker Bell's Magical Nook

Tinker Bell's Magical Nook


Inside these doors guests wait in a switchback line until it's their turn to enter the magical world of fairies. Usually on hand are two of these enchanted creatures and families are given ample time with both to pose for photos. As always, a Disney photographer is on hand and can take pictures with either their camera or your own. This meet-&-greet area often has a long line. If this venue is on your kids' bucket list, arrive early.


Tinker Bell's Magical Nook

Tinker Bell's Magical Nook

Tinker Bell's Magical Nook

Tinker Bell's Magical Nook


Thematically, Tinker Bell's Magical Nook has no business being in Adventureland. What do fairies have to do with the “adventurous” climes of the world? This attraction belongs in Fantasyland. However, Disney had an unused building going to waste and decided to fill it with a popular commodity.

So why is this building hear? In the early years, this space was occupied by a counter-service restaurant called Adventureland Verandah. It featured indoor and outdoor seating, the outdoor being on a “verandah” that overlooked the Swan Boats as they passed by. Much of this verandah has since been boarded up (decoratively).


Adventureland Verandah

Adventureland Verandah


Adventureland Verandah was an opening-day restaurant that served fried chicken and hot sandwiches. In 1977, Kikkoman took over sponsorship and the food took on a Polynesian/Asian-ish flavor offering items such as teriyaki hamburgers topped with pineapple slices.

In 1993, the Adventureland Verandah began closing two days a week. Soon after, it was open only seasonally. And in 1994, it closed for good – almost. In 1998, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café closed for an extensive refurbishment and the Adventureland Verandah opened for a few months to fill this void with a limited menu.

I miss the Adventureland Verandah. It was perhaps the most relaxing spot in the Magic Kingdom to enjoy a meal. The energy level was subdued here. When sitting on the verandah, I felt miles away from the hustle and bustle of the throngs rushing around just beyond the Swan Boat canal. The only other spot in the Magic Kingdom that came close to this relaxed atmosphere was Aunt Polly's on Tom Sawyer Island, and sadly, it is gone too.

Across from Tinker Bell's Magical Nook is the smoking area for Adventureland. It is positioned behind planters to create a wide separation from those that partake and those that don't.


Smoking Area


This is a good time to start appreciating the architecture found in the area. It would be difficult to pinpoint any one locale or nationality's influence on these structures for these buildings represent the colonization of Africa and Asia by many European nations.


Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture


Having grown up with Disneyland's rather simple Adventureland, I was always impressed with this next structure. Its intricate detailing always amazes me. If I ever were to move to a Caribbean island, I would want my house to look like this. Notice if you will, this structure has seen several different color schemes over the years.


Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture


Tucked in amongst all of these buildings is one of the Magic Kingdom's best resting places. Covered, protected from winds, and fan cooled, this hideaway offers guests a wonderful spot to get off your feet and give your aching dogs a rest. Disney tour guides also use this spot to stop and explain Adventureland to their followers. If you time your respite right, you can listen in on some of their interesting facts.


Resting Spot


Of course, no discussion of this area would be complete without mentioning Aloha Isle, home of the famous Dole Whip. Loved by many, detested by some, this spot always has a long line. Personally, I don't think they're worth the wait, but I know many, many people would disagree with me. For those few of you unfamiliar with this taste treat, it is soft-serve pineapple sorbet. It can be served float-style, with pineapple juice, or all alone. To see their full menu, click here.


Aloha Isle

Aloha Isle


That's it for Part One. Check back Thursday for Part Two.



March 13, 2014

“I’d Ate the Back Door Buttered Ma!”

Jack Spence Masthead

Yesterday (March 12, 2014) I was an invited guest at a special event held at Raglan Road located at Downtown Disney. For those of you not familiar with this establishment, Raglan Road is an authentic Irish restaurant and pub. It is owned and operated by Great Irish Pubs Florida, Inc., an Irish-owned company. If you're looking for authenticity in Irish cuisine, this is your place.


Raglan Road

Raglan Road

Raglan Road


The purpose of this event was to kick-off a new cookbook written by Neil Cubley and Kevin Dundon (recipes by Kevin Dundon). But before I get to that, I would like to describe the event.

I arrived a little before 1pm and was shown to the press table, which was meticulously set for the four-course meal we were about to enjoy.


Table Setting

Table Setting


A few moments later, Chef Kevin Dundon appeared on stage and introduced himself. He has a disarming smile that immediately makes you like him and feel at home.


Chef Kevin Dundon

Chef Kevin Dundon


Kevin is an award-winning Irish celebrity chef, television personality, and author. He has been featured prominently on both the “Guerrilla Gourmet” and “Heat” television series. He is also the author of “Kevin Dundon Great Family Food,” “Recipes that Work,” “Full on Irish: Contemporary Creative Cooking,” and “Kevin Dundon's Modern Irish Food.” Needless to say, he knows his way around a kitchen.

Kevin began the afternoon by creating Espresso of Courgette & Almond Soup. This was paired with a glass of Domaine Chandon, Brut from the Napa Valley. Each step of the cooking process was explained in detail and projected on a nearby screen.


Kevin Dundon

Kevin Dundon


One thing you learn about Kevin very quickly is that he likes butter. Lots and lots of butter. He used it generously in several of the dishes he prepared. (I don't know how he stays so thin.)

Once he finished his demonstration, the waitstaff presented us with our own serving. It was scrumptious.


Espresso of Courgette & Almond Soup


For those of you who don't know, anytime soup is served in a bowl or cup with handles, it's perfectly proper to forgo the spoon and drink it – which is how I enjoyed my serving.

The second course was Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Seared Scallops & Crispy Pork Belly. This was paired with a glass of Voceret, Estate Bottled, Chablis from France. Once again, Kevin walked us through the cooking process.


Kevin Dundon

Kevin Dundon

Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Seared Scallops & Crispy Pork Belly


I like scallops, and these were good. But the potato gnocchi was to die for. I could have forgone the scallop altogether and made a meal on the gnocchi alone.

Since both the gnocchi and scallops were seared during preparation, Kevin used this opportunity to tell us about his personal brand of cookware. His pans have a non-stick surface that allow budding chefs to cook without oil. When I had a chance to chat with Kevin after the event, I asked him where my readers could learn more about and purchase his product. Not surprisingly, he has a website. If you're curious about his pots, pans, bowls, and utensils, click here.


Kevin and his Cookware


The main course of the afternoon was Pulled Corned Beef & Cabbage Infused with an Asian Broth. This dish was paired with Chalone Estate, Pinot Noir, Chalone, from the Monterey region of California.


Pulled Corned Beef & Cabbage Infused with an Asian Broth


When I think of corned beef and cabbage, I think of a heavy meal. This definitely was not. It was quite light and flavorful. Kevin said this meal goes well with a hangover as it is something your stomach can face after imbibing a little too much. I agree.

Dessert was Upside-Down Steamed Orange Pudding with Caramelized Clotted Cream. Kevin used oranges, since that is what Florida is known for, but he said that any number of fruits could be used instead. This was served with Inniskillin, Ice Wine from Canada.

As one server placed the dessert in front of us, another followed close behind ladling on the clotted cream. This dish really was heaven on earth.


Upside-Down Steamed Orange Pudding with Caramelized Clotted Cream


I know. It's a tough job. But someone has to go to these tastings. LOL

After lunch, those of us in the press party were taken into a smaller, private room. Here we were each given a copy of Raglan Road's newest cookbook, “I'd ate the Back Door Buttered Ma!”


I'd ate the Back Door Buttered Ma


I admit, the cover of this book and the title are a little different. But let me explain it to you as it was explained to me.

It seems that in Ireland, hungry children will often beg their moms for a snack before suppertime. A common appeasement there is a butter and jam sandwich. But when mom doesn't necessarily believe their hunger is all that great, the child will counter with something like, “I'm so hungry ma I could eat the back door buttered.” I have to admit, it's a cute story and the book's cover would definitely get my attention.

Like most cookbooks, the recipes are broken down into their appropriate categories like Soups, Salads, Fish, Chicken, etc. But unlike many cookbooks, the pages of this book are not glossy, but rather have a matte finish. This gives the accompanying photographs an understated appearance. And by using under saturated colors, the pictures become works of art rather than pictures of food. The photographs are very appetizing.


Cook Book Pictures

Cook Book Pictures

Cook Book Pictures


But “I'd ate the Back Door Buttered Ma!” is more than just a cookbook. It is also an anthology of stories and poems about Irish life, food, and traditions. This is a “real” book that someone could sit down and read and learn about Ireland.

“I'd ate the Back Door Buttered Ma!” will be sold in the Raglan Road gift shop and also through their webpage. At the time of this article, other retailers had not been determined.


Raglan Road Gift Shop


March 10, 2014

Shootin' Galleries

Jack Spence Masthead


Shooting galleries have been a part of county fairs, carnivals, boardwalks, and amusement parks for over two hundred years, and Disneyland would be no exception to this tradition. The Happiest Place on Earth would eventually host four such attractions.

The first shooting Gallery opened on Main Street in July 1955. However, it only featured eight guns and demand quickly outpaced its capacity. In addition, the noise and theming of a shooting gallery really didn't fit the quaint city life depicted on this thoroughfare. It closed in 1962.

To increase capacity, the Frontierland Shooting Gallery opened in July, 1956. This arcade featured twice the shooting opportunities with 16 rifles. Guests were given 14 shots.

The Safari Shooting Gallery opened in Adventureland in June 1962 and featured 12 rifles. This arcade offered more variety of targets than any other shooting arcade in the United States. During its run, this venue was renamed Big Game Safari Shooting Gallery and Big Game Shoot.


Adventureland Big Game Shoot

Adventureland Big Game Shoot


The early Disneyland shooting galleries featured traditional chain-driven targets that moved back and forth in front of an appropriate backdrop. The rifles fired lead pellets and cast members would reload the rifles between rounds. Every night after park closing, the entire target area was repainted, requiring several gallons of paint and eight hours of labor. After all, this was Disneyland and Walt wanted his park to look brand new at opening the following day.

MacGlassine Guns had supplied Disney with their rifles from the park's opening, and in the 1970's, MacGlassine began tinkering with a new arcade rifle that shot infrared beams of light rather than bullets. When a marksman hit a target with one of these new electronic beauties, music, lights, and motion would ensue.

The advantages of this new system were obvious. First, the targets were much more interesting to hit and watch. Next, it would take fewer cast members to man the attraction. Then there was the matter of maintenance. The arcade would not need to be repainted nightly. But most important was safety. The lead pellets had a tendency to bounce off their targets and hit guests. (Do I hear lawsuit?)

By the time the electronic age came to firearms, the Adventureland gallery had already given way to a shop, leaving only the Frontierland Shooting Gallery to tempt marksmen. This pellet driven western arcade bit the dust in September 1984 for a major refurbishment. When it reopened the following year as Frontierland Shootin' Arcade (later, Frontierland Shooting Exposition) it featured these new-fangled infrared rifles.


Frontierland Shooting Exposition


The Davy Crockett Arcade in Frontierland was the fourth and last to join the Disneyland shooting arcade roster and was geared to young rifleman and riflewomen. It entertained guests from 1985 to 1987 and also used the new, infrared rifles.

On a related but different topic, Disneyland scaled back the number of fake guns seen and sold in the park after the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School massacre. In 2001, the California legislature passed a law requiring all toy guns be manufactured in a way that there was no mistaking them for the real thing. This saw the end of the 1800s-style wooden rifles sold in Frontierland as they were pulled from all Disneyland stores. However, plastic space and pirate guns remained on the shelf as they were easily seen as fake. In 2010, Disney once again began selling western rifles due to the many guest requests and the availability of plastic firearms that could not be mistaken for the real thing. As Florida had no such law at the time, wooden rifles were never banned in the Magic Kingdom. However, those sold in the Magic Kingdom today are brightly colored and are obviously toys.


Fake Rifles at the Magic Kingdom


The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World has only ever had one shooting gallery, the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade. And like Disneyland, it too once used lead pellets to knock down targets (1971 to 1982). Once again, safety and the 2,000 gallons of paint used each year to repaint this attraction had a lot to do with its conversion to infrared rifles.


Frontierland Shootin' Arcade


The shootout setting for the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade takes place in a surreal recreation of 1850 Tombstone, Arizona -- Boot Hill to be exact. The scenery includes a hotel, bank, cemetery, livery stable, and jail. When one of the 97 targets is hit, a vast array of activities ensue. Owls hoot, bank robbers emerge, vultures flap their wings, mine cars appear, tombstones rock, and much, much more.


Boot Hill

Boot Hill

Boot Hill

Boot Hill


Unlike most other attractions in the Magic Kingdom, this one is not included in your admission price. It costs $1 for 35 shots. The machines to activate the rifles take quarters (not tokens) and a change machine is located nearby.


Frontierland Shootin' Arcade

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade


It's interesting to note, the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade and the Tomorrowland Video Arcade are not listed on the current Magic Kingdom guide map. I suspect this is because these attractions require an extra charge.

Although the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade is a favorite of many children, countless adults also find the targets challenging and the ensuing animation entertaining.


Adults Shooting


Check out this one minute video of the Frontierland Shootin' Gallery.



And if target shooting isn't your thing, a rustic checker board can be found nearby.


Checkers


Now if your kids aren't too particular about actually hitting real targets with a rifle, the Magic Kingdom also offers another opportunity for sharpshooting. Over at Fort Langhorn on Tom Sawyer Island, marksmen can take aim at the Liberty Belle Riverboat, Thunder Mountain, and the Haunted Mansion. The rifles do not fire pellets or laser beams, but they do make a “shooting” sound.


Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn


At Tokyo Disneyland you can test your skill at Westernland Shootin' Gallery. Here you fire one of 19 Winchester-type rifles at targets found within a saloon recreation. Just like at the Magic Kingdom, the targets react when hit. For example, shoes will dance, bottles jump, and the piano plays.


Westernland Shootin' Gallery

Westernland Shootin' Gallery


At the completion of the game, you receive a score card with a message from Goofy. The cards are printed in both English and Japanese. If you're fortunate enough to get a card that says “lucky,” you also receive a gold sheriff's badge. And if you can hit 10 out of 10 targets, you receive a silver sheriff's badge.


Sheriff's Badge


Like the Magic Kingdom, the Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery at Disneyland Paris offers targets within a recreation of Boot Hill. However, the two arcades look nothing alike. Once again, lasers are used to activate targets.


Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery

Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery

Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery


Hong Kong Disneyland opened without a Frontierland. In 2012, Grizzly Gulch was added and is this park's answer to the American West. However, no shootin' gallery was included with this expansion.

As details for Shanghai Disneyland are scarce, I have no idea if this newest Disney Park will include a shootin' gallery.

That's it for this time, partner.


March 3, 2014

Hodgepodge 3

Jack Spence Masthead


Occasionally, I have a topic I wish to discuss, but it's not long enough to make up an entire article. To remedy this, I've created my Hodgepodge series. In these, I will discuss, two, three, or four unrelated subjects. Today I'll be writing about Highway 429, Disney World Aromas, and Restaurant Cards.


Highway 429

The following is a driving tip for those of you who travel to Walt Disney World by car and motor down Florida's Turnpike (Highway 91). This suggestion has been shared in the AllEars newsletter in the past, but it bears repeating.

Since I've moved to the far west side of metropolitan Orlando, I now frequently use Highway 429. This relatively new stretch of toll road runs from Orange Blossom Trail down to Interstate 4. Also known as the Daniel Webster Western Beltway, Highway 429 is never busy. Even during rush hour, this four lane stretch of road is practically deserted. It was constructed prior to the Great Recession in anticipation of the housing boom that is only now beginning in this area in earnest.


Highway 429


Most people traveling to Disney World via Florida's Turnpike stay on the turnpike until they come to Interstate 4 (heading west toward Tampa). Although traffic on Interstate 4 ebbs and flows during the day, it is always busy and often stressful to drive. However, you can avoid this hectic stretch of road by exiting the turnpike onto Highway 429 (south) about 9 miles north of Interstate 4.

Once on Highway 429, it's about a 14 mile drive to the Western Way Disney World exit. Here you'll encounter the quintessential Disney sign as you enter Western Way. This road travels behind Disney's Animal Kingdom and deposits you near Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.


Disney World off-ramp

Disney World off-ramp

Disney World off-ramp

Disney World Arch


I would definitely consider this route next time you're driving to Walt Disney World from the north. It can possibly save you time and it will definitely save you driving frustration.

Here is an interesting side note… In the months just prior to the Great Recession, Disney announced a major development for the land surrounding the Western Way off-ramp. The project was called Flamingo Crossings and was to feature a value-oriented, themed tourist district. Here guests would find lodging, restaurants, timeshares, and shopping opportunities. Most of these businesses would be non-Disney enterprises.


Flamingo Crossings


Land preparation and roadways were completed for Flamingo Crossings, but unfortunately, when the economy turned south, this project took a backseat to other, more pressing ventures. Today, all you can see of this development are beautifully landscaped streets, painted fences, and vacant land. Since the website for this endeavor still exists, let's hope that someday this project will be resurrected.


Flamingo Crossings

Flamingo Crossings


Disney World Aromas

When I worked at Disneyland (1971 " 1980), the Imagineers employed a sneaky trick to entice guests into their Main Street Candy Palace. They placed bowls of vanilla (or other fragrant aromas) near air vents and had fans blow the smell out into the passing throngs. If you look at this next picture, you can see the vents below the windows.


Main Street Candy Shop


As we know, smells can evoke memories and produce strong emotions. The Imagineers know this and use aromas in ways other than selling candy. For example, when designing Spaceship Earth, the Imagineers wanted guests to instantly know they were going to experience the “ages of time.” To do this, they created a musty odor that greets time travelers the moment they enter the loading area. It's subtle, but if you pay attention, there is no mistaking this smell.


Spaceship Earth Loading Area


A not so subtle odor can also be experienced later in this same attraction. When we travel through the burning of Rome tableau, the smell of smoke is very strong.


Burning of Rome


Of course, we all remember smelling oranges as we passed by the desert farm in Horizons.


Horizons Farm


This same scent can be experienced today on Soarin' as we fly over a California citrus grove. This attraction also produces the smells of a pine forest as we glide over a mountain river and the aroma of the raging surf as we wing over the Pacific Ocean.


Soarin'

Soarin'

Soarin'


It's interesting to note, these scenes were each placed well over a minute apart so the fans and air conditioning could remove one aroma before introducing the next. In addition, the air conditioner needs to be able to entirely remove all odors before the next group of hang gliders arrive.

The same is true over at the Imagination pavilion. When Figment introduces the foul smell in the Journey into Imagination with Figment attraction, the air conditioner must suck out all of the offending aroma before the next group enters the room.


Figment


By the way, this foul smell is actually a modified coffee aroma. Disney couldn't really use a truly obnoxious smell or guests would complain. In this case, Disney tricks us into thinking the smell is actually bad. First we see Figment as a skunk, then Dr. Nigel Channing says, “That really stinks.”

Disney uses another unpleasant aroma in an attraction at the Magic Kingdom. In Tomorrowland we find Stitch's Great Escape. Here, Stitch burps and we're subjected to his chilidog breath. I don't know what this smell actually is, but most guests find it unpleasant and groan when it is released.


Stitch


Over at Mickey's Philharmagic in Fantasyland, audiences are treated to more pleasant aromas. On this attraction we experience the smell of champagne and pie. At one time, the scent of jasmine (the flower, not Aladdin's girlfriend) was used during the magic carpet sequence. However, it was discovered that many people are allergic to this smell so Disney discontinued its use.


Mickey's Philharmagic


Disney also uses the sense of smell in It's Tough to be a Bug at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Here, a stink bug bombards the audience with his potent defense mechanism. Later in the show, an insecticide scent is sprayed into the air.


It's Tough to be a Bug

It's Tough to be a Bug


Distinctive smells are not just limited to the theme parks. The hotels also have their individual odors. For years, I've noticed that the Grand Canyon Concourse of the Contemporary has a distinctive odor. I always assumed it came from the various building materials used during constructions. But of course, over 40 years later, these smells would have dissipated. So when I learned that Disney also manufactures aromas for their various hotels, I wasn't surprised. So the next time you walk into the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, or other Disney hotel, take a deep breath. You'll notice a pleasing smell that is unique to that establishment.


Contemporary Resort


As we know, Fantasia was a ground breaking film with the use of Fantasound in some theaters, a sound system that eventually evolved into stereo. But this wasn't the only innovative idea Walt had for the movie. He also wanted to release aromas into the theater during different segments of the film. For example, the smell of incense was suggested for the Ave Maria piece. He proposed having ushers walk up and down the aisles with spray bottles to release the appropriate scent at the appropriate time. But this method of distribution was impractical and it wasn't feasible to install mechanisms to do this automatically.


Fantasia


There are also the unintentional aromas that captivate us. Who doesn't get a craving when walking by the popcorn machine? Or the smell of burgers can be alluring over by Pecos Bill Tall Tale Cafe.


Popcorn Wagon

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Cafe


And thankfully, Disney restrooms are kept clean enough as to not offend us with obnoxious odors. LOL


Restaurant Cards

Whenever I visit a Disney resort, I always pick up the free paper goodies that are available to guests. These include resort maps, theme park guide books, brochures, and anything else I can lay my hands on. While rummaging through my Disney paper goods recently, I came across a short-lived handout that was available at any of the concierge desks located around Walt Disney World " restaurant cards.

The front of each card featured the name of the restaurant, its logo, and the phone number for Priority Seating. Inside, guests could find an abbreviated menu with no prices. The back cover offered a brief description of the restaurant or its offerings. These cards were small and could easily fit into a pocket, wallet, or purse. Closed they measured 3½“ x 2”. When open, they measured 3½“ x 4”.

Below is an example of a Brown Derby card:


Brown Derby

Brown Derby.jpg


These cards were displayed in a special rack and were available to anyone walking by -- just like the Theme Park Guides are today. They offered guests a way to learn more about Disney World restaurants without having to wait in line to speak to a concierge.

I thought it might be fun today to take a look at some of the restaurants that no longer exist. This is a great way to learn a little about Disney World's past and perhaps stir up a few memories.

Flagler's " Citricos replaced Flagler's in 1997 at the Grand Floridian. Flagler's was named after Henry Flagler, the man who brought the railroad and resort hotels to the east coast of Florida.


Flagler's

Flagler's


Concourse Steakhouse " This moderate-to-fine dining restaurant was located on the fourth floor of the Contemporary on the Grand Canyon Concourse. It was replaced by a quick-service eatery called Contempo Café. A new restaurant, The Wave, opened on the first floor of the resort to fill the void left by Concourse Steakhouse.


Concourse Steakhouse

Concourse Steakhouse


Coral Isle Café " This casual dining room was located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House at the Polynesian. In 1998, this space was remodeled and reopened as the Kona Café.


Coral Isle Café

Coral Isle Café


Tangaroa Terrace " This other casual dining spot at the Polynesian was open until sometime in 1996 when it closed permanently and was not replaced. Today this space is used for special functions.


Tangaroa Terrace

Tangaroa Terrace


BonFamille's Café " Located at Port Orleans (now Port Orleans French Quarter), this lovely restaurant was open for breakfast and dinner. It closed permanently in 2000.


Bonfamille's Café


Bonfamille's Café


Fireworks Factory " The Fireworks Factory was located on Pleasure Island when the original backstory was in place. As the story goes, this was an industrial wharf began by a man named Merriweather Pleasure. The Fireworks Factory was one of the businesses that had taken up occupancy here. This restaurant closed in 1997 and was replaced by Wildhorse Saloon in 1998. Today this building has been completely razed in preparation for Disney Springs.


Fireworks Factory

Fireworks Factory


Ariel's " When the Yacht and Beach Club Resort first opened, the Yacht had a steakhouse restaurant (Yachtsman Steakhouse) and the Beach had a seafood restaurant (Ariel's). In 1996, the Boardwalk opened nearby with the Flying Fish Café. Soon after, it was determined that there just wasn't a need for two seafood restaurants in the area and Ariel's close in 1997.


Ariel's

Ariel's


Captain's Tavern " The Caribbean Beach Resort was the first moderately priced hotel to open at Walt Disney World. The Imagineers did not think a full-service restaurant was needed and opted to create only a counter-service eatery. Unfortunately, they misjudged their audience and hastily converted a nearby lounge into the Captain's Tavern. In 2002, this establishment was closed and completely remodel. It reopened as Shutters at Old Port Royal.


Captain's Tavern

Captain's Tavern


That's it for Hodgepodge Three. Check back next week when I discuss the Shootin' Galleries.


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