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March 2008 Archives

March 1, 2008

Spaceship Earth

A new element has been added to the post-show of the Spaceship Earth redesign.

As you might know from reading other blogs, your picture is taken soon after you board the attraction. In addition, you are also asked to designate where you live by pointing to a map on the touch-sensitive screen in your ride vehicle. First you pick a continent, then point to a major city, and eventually it is narrowed down to the vicinity in which you live.

For several weeks now, as you descend the ride, you are asked a series of questions as to how you would like the future to unfold. Once the onboard computer compiles your choices, your face is superimposed over a cartoon character so you can actually see "yourself" in the future you created. It's a very cute effect. But a new element has been added.

Once you exit the attraction, you enter the Siemens post-show area. Here you will encounter a giant globe of the earth. Within a couple of moments, your face will appear on the globe. It will stay there for 15-30 seconds, then it will swoosh down to the hometown you selected at the beginning of the attraction. As it does this, a little white dot appears on the map to represent you.

I rode Spaceship Earth in the early afternoon and by that time, the east coast of the U.S. was covered in white dots. Other areas were more sparsely populated. The entire planet is represented so no matter where you're from, you will get placed on the map. This is a pretty cool ending to the ride.

Picture taking hint: You are given warning before your picture is taken and be sure to look at the camera. Face detection software is used and it is necessary to get a full-face photograph for the effect to work properly. Also, if you wear glasses, you might want to take them off for the picture as reflections can create problems for the software, thus negating your portrait.


March 4, 2008

The Old Mill

In 1937, Walt Disney produced "The Old Mill," one of the Silly Symphonies. This was the first film to use the multiplane camera, a device that added depth of field to animation.

multiplane camera

This film also depicted realistic animal behavior, wind and rain effects, and new lighting techniques. So innovative was this film that it won the 1937 Academy Award for Best Short Subject, Cartoon.

The Old Mill

In one scene of the film, we see a bird that has made her nest inside a gear socket located within the old mill. As a storm outside starts to rage, the gears start to move, threatening to crush the mother and her eggs as the gears join together. But fate is with the bird and the opposing gear is missing one of its teeth, thus, the bird is never crushed.


Disney has paid homage to this film at Walt Disney World. Inside Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom is a complex set of gears used to grind grain. Within one of these gears you can see a small bird sitting on her nest. She too spins around as the waterwheel outside turns. But this bird is also spared a disastrous ending as the gears never quite crush her.


Now it's obvious that the old mill in the animated film looks nothing like Harper's Mill. And the gear configuration is not the same. But there can be no mistake that this is a tribute to one of Walt Disney's early masterpieces.


March 10, 2008

Main Street USA City Hall Steeple

When I was in the Magic Kingdom over the weekend, I did a double-take when I looked at City Hall which is currently undergoing rehab. It's missing its steeple. And not only is the steeple missing, but so is the printed upper canvas designed to lessen the impact of the rehab is gone.


March 15, 2008

Mouse Trap

Some Disney Imagineer's quirky sense of humor can be seen in the recently rehabbed Spaceship Earth.

As you approach the modern era, take a look behind the couch of the family seated watching TV in the 1960's living room. Look closely and you'll see the board game "Mouse Trap" which was introduced to the public by the Ideal Company in 1963. Is it meant for Mickey?

Wolfgang Puck Express – Marketplace

When Wolfgang Puck's first opened at the Marketplace in Downtown Disney, they had no indoor seating. This simply wouldn't do in hot, humid, and rainy Florida. Eventually, they rearranged what little indoor space they had and added a few tables. This helped, but it wasn't the solution they needed. So a couple of months ago they closed up shop for a major rehab and reopened today, Saturday, March 15.

Wolfgang Puck Express Entrance

I visited their remodeled venue for lunch today and was happy with what I saw. The first thing I noticed was a new, large, indoor dining room had been added. Approximately fifteen tables are spaciously arranged in an airy room surrounded on three sides by floor to ceiling windows. The atmosphere has a clean modern feel but the wooden tables and chairs add some warmth.

Wolfgang Puck Express Indoor Seating

Wolfgang Puck Express Indoor Seatingpg

Wolfgang Puck Express Indoor Seating

Wolfgang Puck Express Indoor Seating

Wolfgang Puck Express Indoor Seating

Wolfgang Puck Express Indoor Seating

Outside you'll find another twenty or so tables, most under a large roof. The tables here are made of brushed metal and the seats are wicker.

Wolfgang Puck Express Outside Tables

Wolfgang Puck Express Outside Tables

The area where you order your food has also been completely redesigned and continues this modern theme. To the right of the ordering area is another, smaller seating area with two large tables for eight, a beverage station, and an open kitchen.

After ordering, you're given a plastic table-tent with a number printed on it. You are also given flatware that is wrapped in a high-quality paper napkin. If you've ordered beverages you're given plastic (not paper) glasses and told to get your drinks, find a table, and display your number.

As it was opening day, every cast member was working and it would be impossible to complain about service. Shortly after Donald and I were seated, we were greeted by a young man who told us he would be our server. A few minutes later, he brought our food to the table and asked if we needed refills for our drinks.

I ordered the Roast Beef & Cheddar Sandwich on Focaccia for $9.95. It was quite good. The serving of beef was more than adequate and it was topped with cheese, tomato, and greens that have been tossed with a light vinaigrette dressing. A side of home-made Yukon Gold Parmesan potato chips rounded out the meal. I was please with my choice.

Roast Beef & Cheddar Sandwich on Focaccia

Donald ordered the Rosemary Rotisserie Chicken for $11.95. He couldn't have been happier. He has always enjoyed Wolfgang Puck's rotisserie chicken and he wasn't disappointed today. First, the serving is large - a half chicken. Next, the finished product was attractive to look at. And finally, it was juicy and delicious. It was served with a side of garlic mashed potatoes smothered in butter.

Rosemary Rotisserie Chicken

Another thing I liked was that the entrees were served on plastic (not paper) plates. This helps give a slightly more upscale feel to the place.

Since your order is brought to your table and drink refills are also fetched by a cast member, I would say that Wolfgang Puck Express at the Marketplace is a cross between a counter-service and table-service restaurant. When we finished our meal, we left our server a tip as it was certainly warranted.

I didn't frequent the old restaurant because of their lack of indoor seating and I didn't feel their food and atmosphere warranted the prices. But I would certainly rethink this opinion as I was most pleased today.

I asked a manager if the Disney Dining "Card" was accepted and was told yes. I forgot to ask about the Disney Dining "Plan" - sorry.

Wolfgang Puck Express is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Takeout is also available.

March 22, 2008

How the Flying Fish Cafe Got Its Name

Recently, I wrote an article for the Allears.net newsletter about the Flying Fish Café. In it, I mentioned that I wasn't exactly sure how the restaurant got its name. Two of my readers (Debbie and Mehran), did a much better job of research than I did and were able to find the answer. My thanks to them both.

This is an excerpt from "Nation's Restaurant News" dated July 19, 1999 and authored by David Mack.

The inspiration for the Flying Fish Cafe came from a classic Coney Island roller coaster called the Flying Turns; one of the cars on that coaster was called the Flying Fish. The coaster was part of Coney Island's heyday during the 1920's, the so-called "Golden Age of roller coasters." Coasters built during that time reflected a daredevil attitude on the part of their designers, and were integral to the spirit of Coney Island, which architect Martin Dorf described as "its heightened sense of reality, its sense of joy, its mystique, with grotesque shapes and rides like fish that swallowed you whole."

To read the entire article, check out this website:


March 24, 2008

Old Walt Disney World Pictures

A couple of months ago, I published some old pictures I had taken at Walt Disney World. I received several letters asking that I publish more, so here goes. All of these were taken in January, 1972, just a little over three months after Disney World opened.

The first picture is of the Toll Plaza. Notice it says "Parking Entrance." It doesn't even say "Walt Disney World" yet.

Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza 1972

This next photo is of the Contemporary Resort taken from the Skyway in Tomorrowland. Notice the lack of vegetation. Also, notice the crane. By this date, all of the modular rooms had been hoisted into place, but the suites, which were NOT modular, were still under construction.

Contemporary Resort taken from the Skyway in Tomorrowland 1972

This third picture is of a room in the Contemporary. So this is what the Imagineers thought the future would look like during their planning sessions in the late 60's.

Contemporary Room 1972

This next shot was taken from inside the Contemporary, looking south from the middle of the building. Notice how this area hasn't yet been expanded out beyond the windows which would eventually become Chef Mickey's. Also notice the orange and yellow plastic trees.

Contemporary Resort 4th Floor - 1972

And finally, this last picture was taken from one of the balcony rooms of the Contemporary looking west. Once again, notice the lack of vegetation and a missing Grand Floridian Resort.

By the way, a Tower Room in the Contemporary cost $35 per night back then!

View from the Contemporary 1972

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About March 2008

This page contains all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in March 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2008 is the previous archive.

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