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November 2008 Archives

November 6, 2008

New Epcot Recycle Bins

Epcot is experimenting with a new recycle bin. Distributed throughout various areas of Future World, guests will find receptacles especially designed for bottles and cans. It's hoped that this new "bottle" shape will attract guest's attention and encourage recycling.



Disney does have other trashcans especially designated for bottles and cans, but they look similar to the regular trash receptacles and weren't living up to expectations.

Personally, I don't think Disney had enough of the old-style bins to encourage use. If a guest wanted to throw away an empty water bottle, they had to search for a recycle bin if they wanted to be "green." I hope this new receptacle will be distributed around the park more liberally. Hopefully, an abundance of recycling bins, combined with the new design will encourage us all to recycle while at Disney World.

Addendum: Within one day of this blog being posted, a number of my readers have written and told me that Disney sorts their garbage backstage, looking for recyclables. I don't know if this is true, but given that it is, most guests (like me) are unaware of this. Having obvious recycle bins would accomplish two objectives. First, it would pre-sort the trash and minimize this sorting process backstage. But more importantly, it shows the guests that Disney cares about the environment and it sets a good example.

November 7, 2008

Disneyland vs. Magic Kingdom Part 1

I just got back from vacation. A portion of my trip was spent visiting the Disneyland Resort in California. For those of you who have read my bio, you know that I grew up in Anaheim and visited Disneyland often during my childhood. When I turned eighteen I got a job at the Blue Bayou Restaurant and worked there and at the Club 33 for nine years. I love this park.

When I returned from vacation I decided to write a 100% biased comparison of Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. Please note, I'm only comparing the parks, not the resorts. I know everyone has a belief as to which park is better, so I decided to settle the argument once and for all with my prejudiced, yet scientific method. I will start by comparing duplicate attractions, giving one point to what I believe to be the better ride or show.



Disneyland Railroad / Walt Disney World Railroad: First, Disneyland has four stations to Disney World's three. But more importantly, the Grand Canyon Diorama and Primeval World easily makes Disneyland's train the better attraction.

Primeval World Disneyland

Main Street Vehicles: Even though Disneyland runs their vehicles more frequently than Disney World, I would have to rate these attractions as equals.


Jungle Cruise: Walt Disney World easily beats Disneyland since it has the indoor temple section.

Jungle Cruise

Enchanted Tiki Room / Under New Management: Disneyland still features the original show (albeit shortened slightly). I find "Under New Management" at Disney World obnoxious. Disneyland wins this one.

Tiki Room

Swiss Family / Tarzan Treehouse: I really like the fact that Disneyland's treehouse has been updated with a Tarzan theme. Most kids today aren't familiar with the Swiss Family Robinson. However, the tree at Disney World is larger and negotiating the stairs is much easier. I'd have to rate these attractions as different but equal.

Pirates of the Caribbean (Located in New Orleans Square at Disneyland): Anyone who has ridden this attraction at both parks knows that California's version is vastly superior to Florida's. The ride is almost twice as long, has two waterfalls, and has a number of scenes that are missing from the Magic Kingdom's version. I'd like to give Disneyland two points from this attraction, but will stick to my rules and only give it one.

Pirates of the Caribbean


Mark Twain / Liberty Belle Riverboat (located in Liberty Square): The boats are similar as are the sights along the way. I'll call it a draw.

Big Thunder Mountain: The rides are mirror images of each other, but overall, I think the experience is about the same. The Magic Kingdom has the washed-out town that you ride through, but Disneyland has the town of Rainbow Ridge in its queue area. Another draw.

Tom Sawyer Island / Pirates Lair: I have always thought that Disneyland's Island had more to offer than Disney Worlds (more caves and more rocks to climb on). And with the new pirate theming being added in California, I'd definitely have to give Disneyland the nod.

Tom Sawyer Island

Splash Mountain (Located in Critter Country at Disneyland): The Disney World attraction is slightly larger and has side-by-side seats whereas Disneyland has a bench you straddle. Thumbs up for Disney World.

Splash Mountain

Shootin' Gallery: Equal


Haunted Mansion: The exterior of both mansions are beautiful in their own way, but I feel the recent updates to the Florida attraction and the additional scenes of the piano player and library give this haunted house the edge. However, because Disneyland offers the magnificent Nightmare Before Christmas overlay for three months out of the year, I'll call this a tie.


"it's a small world": The basic experience is about the same at both parks, but the exterior of Disneyland's attraction and the Christmas overlay make the California version the winner over Disney World.

Disneyland's its a Small World

The following attractions may have subtle differences, but overall, I'd have to rate them as equal:

Snow White's Scary Adventures - Disneyland / Disney World

Peter Pan's Flight - Disneyland / Disney World

King Arthur / Cinderella's Golden Carousel

Mad Tea Party - Disneyland / Disney World

Dumbo the Flying Elephant: Even though the basic ride is the same, the attraction is visually more appealing at Disneyland due to the fountains and calliope. I'd have to vote for California over Florida.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Sleeping Beauty / Cinderella Castle: Even though this is not an attraction, the castle at Disney World is awe inspiring. It deserves a point.

Cinderella Castle

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (located in Critter Country at Disneyland): Although the Disneyland and Disney World versions are slightly different, I can't say that one is really any better than the other. Tie.


Space Mountain: Disneyland's version has synchronized music (similar to Rock N Roller Coaster). I understand that Disney World's version will be adding this feature in the future, but until then, California wins the space race.

Space Mountain

Autopia / Tomorrowland Indy Speedway: I think the Disney World's version is boring. You drive around a figure-eight with little to see along the way. On the other hand, at Disneyland you drive on an elaborate roadway with different tracks taking different routes. Also, there are a number of sights to see along the way. Another thumbs up for California.

Disneyland's Autopia

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin / Astro Blasters: The simple fact that the lasers are attached via flexible cables at Disneyland, allowing guests to pick up the guns for better aiming, gives Disneyland a definite edge.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

Astro Orbitor / Astro Orbiter (Note, "Orbitor/er" is spelled differently at the two parks): I was very disappointed when the "powers that be" moved Disneyland's rocket jets from their high perch to the ground-level entrance of Tomorrowland. Disney World's jets still sit well above Tomorrowland and this makes their attraction much more exciting. Score another point for Florida.

Astro Orbitor

Starcade/Tomorrowland Arcade: Both venues offer a large assortment of video games. Another tie.

Star Tours: Here things get a little more difficult. Since this attraction is located at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, it's difficult to know whether it should be included in the comparison. But since the attractions are identical, I'm just going to call it a draw. Disneyland's version.

Monorail: Once again, this attraction is more difficult to compare because at Disneyland it is part of Tomorrowland while at Disney World, it never enters the park. Still, I think the monorail in Florida is superior due to its larger size so I'll award a point to Disney World.

Monorail WDW

Innoventions: Although not present at the Magic Kingdom, it does exist at Epcot with more displays than Disneyland's Tomorrowland version. I'll give a point to Florida for this one.


Honey I Shrunk the Audience: Like Innoventions, this attraction is in Disneyland's Tomorrowland and Epcot in Florida. But in this case, the movies are identical so we have another tie.


Disneyland deserves a point simply because their Toontown is twice the size of Florida's. For basic "strolling through the area" there is no comparison. California wins due to the multitude of "gags" that can be discovered in the Downtown area of this land.

Toontown in Disneyland

I think Minnie's House, Mickey's House, and Donald's boat are all so similar it would be unfair to pick one over another.

Gadget's Go Coaster / The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm: Although the theming is completely different, both are kiddy coasters and offer the same excitement for the little ones. A tie.

That's it for shared attractions. In my next blog, I'm going to list all of the attractions that exist only at Disneyland and only at WDW.

November 8, 2008

Disneyland vs Magic Kingdom Part 2

In my last blog I wrote about the attractions that Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom share and offered comparisons. In this blog, I'm going to list all of the attractions that exist only at Disneyland any then only at the Magic Kingdom. Of course, I'll be keeping score and each attraction will receive a point.


Disneyland: The First 50 Years: This film replaced Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and presents guests with an entertaining history of the park.

Main Street Cinema: That's right folks. This area of Main Street has not been converted into another shop like at the Magic Kingdom. You can still view old Mickey Mouse cartoons here. Yea!

Main Street Cinema

Penny Arcade & Magic Shop: Although much of the Penny Arcade has been converted into a shop, there are still a number of old time machines to amuse the curious - far more than at Casey's Corner at the Magic Kingdom. Also, the Magic Shop still exists on Main Street. Unlike the Magic Kingdom, it hasn't been converted to yet another Disney-only merchandising area. These two factors are enough to garner another point.


Indiana Jones Adventure: This is a fantastic ride. Even though it uses the same type vehicle and track layout as Dinosaur in the Animal Kingdom, there is no comparison. This ride is sheer genius.

Indiana Jones


Sailing Ship Columbia: I realize that the sights and sounds you encounter around the Rivers of America are the same as those on the Mark Twain, but this is a different attraction and a different experience can be had on this ride. First, the ship is very interesting to explore, both above and below deck. But also, two cast members (not a recording) narrate the trip with a humorous spiel.

Columbia Sailing Ship

Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes: Why did Disney remove this attraction from the Magic Kingdom? Even if you weren't paddling your way around the Rivers of America, they were still visually appealing to see plying the waterways. I'm so glad they're still available at Disneyland.

Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes

Big Thunder Ranch: This area is used and reused for a number of special events. A petting farm can also be found here.


Alice In Wonderland: A great dark ride that follows Alice into the rabbit hole.

Storybook Land Canal Boats: Here you sail past the miniature world of some of Disney's beloved fairytale characters.

Storybook Land Canal Boats

Casey Jr. Circus Train: A great favorite of children and adults that takes another look at Storybook Land.

Casey Jr. Circus Train

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride: Unlike many, I didn't have a problem with the removal of this attraction from the Magic Kingdom to make room for the more contemporary Winnie the Pooh. But I'm very glad it can still be experienced at Disneyland.

Pinocchio's Daring Journey: Another great dark ride that follows Pinocchio and his conscience to Pleasure Island and beyond.

Matterhorn Bobsleds: The first thrill ride at Disneyland and the first coaster to use tubular steel for tracks. This is a perennial favorite.

Matterhorn Bobsleds:

Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough: Currently under an extensive rehab, this quaint attraction allows guests to venture into Sleeping Beauty Castle and view vignettes of the princess' life.

Snow White's Grotto: A magical spot next to Sleeping Beauty Castle. Many a marriage proposal has taken place here.

Snow White's Grotto


Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin: In this dark ride guests ride in Benny the Cab and turn the vehicle in circles with the steering wheel (similar to the Mad Tea Party) as they ride along a track while retreating from the weasels.

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin

Goofy's Playhouse: Only children are allowed in Goofy's house where they can literally bounce off the cushioned walls.

Chip 'n Dale Treehouse: Although adults are welcome, children will feel more at home in the chipmunk's home.


Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage: Although some of the sights are similar to Epcot's "The Seas with Nemo and Friends," I don't feel it's fair to compare the two. The experience is completely different when climbing into a submarine rather than riding in a clamshell. It's a shame Disney retired the submarines at the Magic Kingdom. Nemo would have fit much better into Fantasyland than it does in Tomorrowland or Epcot.


Now it's time to list the attractions found only at the Magic Kingdom. Since most of my readers are more familiar with Disney World, I'll skip any explanation of the attractions. Once again, each attraction gets a point.

Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Country Bear Jamboree

Hall of the Presidents

Mickey's PhilharMagic

Fairytale Garden

Ariel's Grotto

Pooh's Playful Spot

Tomorrowland Transit Authority

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress

Stitch's Great Escape

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

I have to give the Magic Kingdom a point simply because it is larger and handles crowds better than Disneyland.

However, I also have to give Disneyland a point because it is smaller, giving the guest a more intimate (magical) feel.

So, here's the final tally:

Disneyland 29

Magic Kingdom 17

So there you have it, absolute, mathematical proof that Disneyland is far superior to the Magic Kingdom by twelve points.

November 9, 2008

Trail’s End Lunch Menu -- Revised


Back in August, I reported that the Trail's End lunch buffet had stopped serving "hot" entrees in favor of "make your own" sandwiches. I actually liked this change, but apparently I was in the minority - a very small minority. It seems that Disney received numerous complaints about this scaled-back menu. Many guests quipped, "If I wanted a sandwich, I could have stayed at my campsite and fixed one." To remedy this problem, the Trail's End Restaurant has removed the sandwich portion of the buffet and once again offers hot items for lunch.

However, things aren't exactly as they once were. The buffet does not offer as many selections for lunch as they once did. One noticeable omission is pizza, a kid's favorite. However, Mac & Cheese has returned. I also felt that there weren't as many entrees as before. Here's what was on the lunch menu today (November 9, 2008) when I ate there.

Three premade salads: Caesar, Chinese, and Strawberry and Blue Cheese.
Make-your-own salad
Potato Salad
Soup du Jour
Fried Chicken
BBQed Pork and buns
Mac & Cheese
Vegetable of the day
Cookies, brownies, and soft ice cream bar

Breakfast is served from 7:30am to 12 noon
Children: $7.99
Adults: $11:99

Lunch is severed from 11:30am to 2:30pm
Children: $8:99
Adults: $12:99

Dinner is served from 4:30am to 9:30pm
Children: $10:99
Adults: $18.99

From 11:30 to 12noon, both breakfast and lunch are served. If you arrive before 11:30 (check the time-stamp on the receipt the hostess gives the server), you pay the breakfast rate for both meals. If you arrive after 11:30am, you pay the lunch rate.

I have some good news and bad news for those of you waiting for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue. First the good news. A number of oversized games have been added to the area to amuse kids (and adults) while waiting to be let into the show. These include Ring Toss, Horseshoes, Jenga, Dominos, Chess, and more.

The bad news is this. Several of the rocking chairs have been removed from the porch to make room for these games.

November 12, 2008

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2008 Part 1

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Sign

I know for many of you, it's too early to start thinking about Christmas. But Disney doesn't agree. Last night (November 10th), the first "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party" of 2008 was held. Deb Wills and I were on hand for the festivities.

Main Street Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

The party starts at 7pm and runs till midnight. However, guests may enter the Magic Kingdom anytime after 4pm with their event ticket. Cast Members were directing regular day guests to enter the left half of the turnstiles and those attending the party to enter the right side.

All party goers are given a wristband after passing through the turnstiles to differentiate them from daytime guests. Come seven o'clock, only guests with wristbands are allowed onto rides and attractions. Everyone else is asked to leave the park.

Main Street Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Main Street Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Main Street Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

On the left side, just before City Hall, were 2 Toy Soldiers and a countdown of "45" days until Christmas. Behind the sign was a photo opportunity backdrop that included a holiday wreath.

City Hall Toy Soldier Photo Op

Deb and I arrived early and had dinner at Pecos Bill CafΓ©. After our meal we headed over to the Castle Forecourt to watch the "Castle Lighting Ceremony" that takes place each evening at 6:30. Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early as this is a very popular show attended by both day guests and party goers.

As the festivities begin, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald are trying to get into the holiday spirit, but something seems to be missing. Each has a different idea as to how to decorate the castle, but no consensus can be reached. Finally, they decide to ask Cinderella for her thoughts. After all, she's the one who lives in the castle. In the end, her fairy godmother appears on the balcony and transforms the castle into a wonderful work of art with thousands of tiny lights.

Magic Kingdom Castle Lighting Ceremony

Magic Kingdom Castle Lighting Ceremony


The show is simple, but it works. As the castle turrets light up, section by section, the crowd gasps in amazement. I had goose bumps, and I've seen the show before. For the rest of the evening, Deb kept repeating, "The castle is stunning." And she's right, it is magnificent.

Magic Kingdom Castle Lighting Ceremony

The castle lighting show is 15 minutes long.

At its conclusion at 6:45 we hightailed it to the Galaxy Palace Theater in Tomorrowland. We wanted to see the first presentation of "Mickey's Twas the Night Before Christmas" show which begins at 7pm. When we arrived, we found that the theater was almost full and we were some of the last guests to be admitted. This show is also presented at 8:00, 9:00, 10:15, and 11:15. If you plan on seeing the "Castle Lighting Ceremony," I might suggest seeing one of these later performances so you can get a better seat.

In this show, Mickey reads passages from "Twas the Night Before Christmas" as different characters act out portions of the story. A live orchestra provides the music. The highlight of the program is when Minnie sings "Santa Baby" to Goofy dressed in a Santa suit. It's hilarious. The show is about 30 minutes long and is a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend seeing it.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

After the show, Deb went to investigate "Cosmic Ray's Jingle Dance and Play Party" at Cosmic Ray's Starlight CafΓ©.

Cosmic Ray's Jingle Dance and Play Party

Cosmic Ray's Jingle Dance and Play Party

I headed back to the Castle Forecourt to see the "Celebrate the Season" show.

When I arrived at Main Street, I was amazed at how many people were lining the street waiting for the 8:15 parade. The Hub was also packed with people. This didn't seem right to me. These special event parties usually aren't this busy. I started looking for wristbands and found that many of these people did not have one. I suspect that a lot of these guests stake out a spot on the parade route at 7pm, rather than leave the park as they are supposed to. Once someone is sitting on the curb, I imagine it would be difficult for Disney to evict these guests. I struggled through the crowd and found a place in front of the castle for the show.

The "Celebrate the Season" show is different, but similar in feel to the "Twas the Night Before Christmas" show. In this performance, Mickey and Minnie are joined by a number of "Nutcracker Suite" characters (among others) who bring merriment to the festivities. This show is shown at 7:45, 10:05, and 11:20.

Celebrate the Season

Celebrate the Season

Celebrate the Season

Celebrate the Season

Celebrate the Season

Celebrate the Season

Celebrate the Season

Since the overall experience of these two shows are so alike, I don't really think it's necessary to see both of them. And if you choose to see only one, I'd pick the "Twas the Night Before Christmas" for a couple of reasons. First, the show is longer. Also, the theater has benches (with backs) that you can sit on. Shows in the Castle Forecourt require guests to stand during the performance. Also, many parents place their children on their shoulders when the show begins, blocking the views of those behind them.



After the "Celebrate the Season" show I met up with Deb in Frontierland to see the "Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade" which started at 8:15. Once I entered Liberty Square, the crowds thinned out dramatically. Frontierland was also sparsely occupied. This convinced me that many "day" guests had stayed past 7pm to see the parade.

Next, Part 2 of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!

November 13, 2008

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2008 Part 2

In the first blog about Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, I told you about the Castle Lighting Ceremony, Mickey's Twas the Night before Show and the Celebrate the Season show.

From there Deb and I met back up in Frontierland for the Parade!

The parade shows twice a night. Both showings begin in Frontierland (8:15pm and 10:30pm). If you find the Magic Kingdom is busy on the night you attend, I would suggest seeing the second showing as it is always less attended. The parade is long and lasts almost 30 minutes.

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade:

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

After the parade, we walked back to The Hub and found our spot for the "Holiday Wishes - Celebrate the Spirit of the Season" fireworks show that starts at 9:30. Even though Disney tells guests that they can enjoy the fireworks from anywhere in the park, I feel it's much better when seen from Main Street or The Hub. The castle provides the perfect backdrop for the presentation.

Holiday Wishes - Celebrate the Spirit of the Season

Holiday Wishes - Celebrate the Spirit of the Season

Holiday Wishes - Celebrate the Spirit of the Season

Holiday Wishes - Celebrate the Spirit of the Season

Holiday Wishes - Celebrate the Spirit of the Season

Another show available is "Belle's Enchanted Christmas" presented at 7:15, 8:10, 10:00, and 11:15 in Belle's Fairytale Gardens. Here, Belle tells a delightful story of a Christmas she once experienced.

Holiday Treats are available, free of charge, at various locations throughout the Magic Kingdom. These include hot chocolate, apple juice, cookies, and apple slices. Also available are sugar-free hot chocolate, sugar-free cookies, and gluten-free cookies.

Holiday Treats

Holiday Treats

Holiday Treats

Mickey's Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

Two "Character Dance Parties" are on hand for the kids. At Ariel's Grotto, Lady Tremaine, and the ugly stepsisters Drizella and Anastasia from Cinderella, can be found on the dance floor. At Cosmic Ray's Starlight CafΓ©, Chip and Dale and Stitch get into the act.

Pavilion Cotillion Dance Party

Pavilion Cotillion Dance Party

Pavilion Cotillion Dance Party


Pavilion Cotillion Dance Party

Besides the extra festivities these special events provide, manageable crowds are also a nice feature. A little after 10pm, Deb and I circled the park, checking the wait times for attractions. Peter Pan posted a 20 minute queue. All other attractions were 10 minutes or less.

Note, not all attractions are open for "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party." Here is a list of what's available.

Pirates of the Caribbean
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Swiss Family Treehouse
Splash Mountain
Frontierland Shootin' Arcade
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
The Haunted Mansion
Peter Pan's Flight
Cinderella's Golden Carousel
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Mickey's PhilharMagic
Snow White's Scary Adventures
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Mad Tea Party
"it's a small world"
Pooh's Playful Spot
Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
Space Mountain
Astro Orbiter
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Stitches Great Escape
Tomorrowland Transit Authority
Tomorrowland Arcade
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor (last show at 9pm)
The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm
Mickey's Country House
Minnie's Country House

Also scattered around the park are a number of photo ops such as this one in Fantasyland and special entertainment like the singing pirates in Adventureland. In addition, special "event only" merchandise can be purchased at selected shops.



I do need to give Disney a slap on the wrist. The Christmas tree was not up for this first presentation of "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party." I feel that if Disney is going to charge for a separate ticketed event, that's all about Christmas, then having the Christmas tree in place should be a priority. I was disappointed.

"Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party" is held on the following nights:

November 10
November 11
November 14
November 16
November 20
November 21
November 30
December 2
December 4
December 5
December 7
December 9
December 11
December 12
December 14
December 16
December 18
December 19

Depending on the date, prices range from $48.95 - $55.95 for adults and $42.95 - $49.95 for children (3-9). Tickets can be purchased at any guest relations desk.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party MAP

Ticket and other MVMCP information!

November 16, 2008

Contempo CafΓ© - Contemporary Resort

A new counter service restaurant, the Contempo CafΓ©, opened yesterday (November 15) on the fourth floor of the Contemporary Resort.

Occupying the space that once was the Concourse Steakhouse, this eatery is designed for those guests who want to grab a quick bite rather than enjoy a full service meal.

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

When you enter the restaurant, the first thing you encounter are two electronic menu boards. Note, the prices are NOT posted here. After you get an idea of what's offered, you proceed to one of the five kiosks where you place your order by using a touch-sensitive screen. It's here that you'll find the menu prices. The touch-sensitive screens give you the option of English or Spanish.

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

Disney has tried to anticipate every possible option a guest might request. For example, if you order a Caesar Salad, the screen will give you the choice of having the dressing mixed into the greens, served on the side, or omitted completely. If you order a hamburger, you're given the choice of four cheeses. Depending on the choices you make, the price of an item may change and this is reflected in a running total on the right side of the screen. Once you've finished making your selections, a receipt is printed for you to take to the cashier. Currently, a host or hostess is on hand to help you figure out the system - but I found it easy to navigate.

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

If you don't want something that requires kitchen preparation, you can bypass these kiosks and proceed to the self-service bakery, "The Market" area for refrigerated items or to one of the shelves where fruit and prepackaged items are available.

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

When you have everything you want, you take your receipt and other goodies to the cashier. It's here that you order fountain drinks. If you have ordered anything that is being prepared by the kitchen, you will be given a pager and told it will buzz when your food is ready. After paying you proceed to the dining area and get settled.

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

The dining room is large and spacious. The tables have a "contemporary" look and the chairs feature a cut-out Mickey Mouse. It's in the dining room that you'll find the condiment and drink station. A microwave oven and bagel toaster are also available here.

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

When your pager buzzes, you return to the "Pick Up Order Here" counter for your food.

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

I ordered the Stacked Sandwich. It featured smoked ham, dill havarti, and honey-mustard on Ciabatta bread. I had a choice of Green Bean Salad or House Chips. I chose the chips.

I was very pleased with my selection. It was obvious that the chips were fresh as they were still warm when I returned to the table. And the sandwich was large - large enough to share if you don't have a huge appetite.

My friend Donald ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad and the soup-of-the-day which was Chicken Corn Chowder. He thought both items were quite tasty. We both agreed that we would return in the future.

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

My overall impression of the menu is favorable. It appears that Disney is trying to offer more upscale choices here. I would compare Contempo CafΓ© to the Sunshine Seasons Restaurant in the Land Pavilion at Epcot - which I like a lot.

A word of caution"¦ Construction (and noise) will be the norm here for several more months. The area that once was the Outer Rim Lounge is being converted into additional seating for Chef Mickey's. And the area that housed the temporary counter service restaurant will be the home of the new Outer Rim Lounge. So until these projects are complete, be prepared for the sounds of saws, drills, and other electric tools.

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort

Contempo Cafe Contemporary Resort


Grab & Go only (no kitchen preparation): 6:00am - 12 midnight

Breakfast: 7:00am - 11:00am

Lunch: 11:00am - 10:00pm (lunch items are available thru dinner hours)

Dinner: 5:00pm - 10:00pm

One final comment and opinion. Over the last several years, Disney has been in the process of redecorating the fourth floor of the Contemporary Resort. Their efforts have given it a stylish and updated look - which I like. But there is one glaring contradiction to their redesign. The Mary Blair tiles that grace the elevator shafts are horribly wrong for this new look.

The fourth floor is officially named the Grand Canyon Concourse. And in the early years, Disney had a semi-Southwestern motif here, of which the tiles were a part. But those days are long gone. It's time to replace these tiles with something more fitting of the rest of the dΓ©cor.

Grand Canyon Concourse


Post YOUR Review!

November 26, 2008

Mary Blair Tiles

In my last blog, I mentioned that I thought the Mary Blair tiles on the Grand Canyon Concourse of the Contemporary Resort should be replaced with something more fitting of the new dΓ©cor. I knew when I wrote this, I was going to receive emails of disagreement. And I was right. Many of you feel strongly about this. Words like blasphemous and sacrilege were used in connection with my idea.


Many of you said that these tiles are a part of Disney history and they shouldn't be discarded so quickly, but instead, treasured and loved. After all, this mural was created by Disney Legend Mary Blair - the same legend who was responsible for much of "it's a small world."

Before I go any further, I want to say that I understand, and respect the opinions of those of you who disagree with me. And you might even be right! Maybe these tiles should be considered sacred. Ultimately, it will be the Imagineers who decide, but here are some of my thoughts on the issue.

Disney must walk a very delicate tightrope when updating their parks and resorts. Trying to decide what is an untouchable piece of Disney history and what's expendable is a most difficult task. And whatever they decide, someone's not going to be happy.

I remember when Disney decided to remove "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" from the Magic Kingdom, all heck broke loose with many Disney fans. Countless people said they were removing a classic -- an attraction they had grown up with. In the end, Winnie the Pooh is ten times more popular than the tired Toad attraction had become. But for those of you who loved Toad, this offers little comfort.


I know I was outraged when Disney removed the "Mickey Mouse Review" and sent it to Tokyo Disneyland. I thought this was a truly unique and fantastic attraction. Earlier this year, I was able to experience this show again while visiting Japan. You know what? By today's standards, it's slow and plodding - actually boring. And I wasn't the only one who thought so. Tokyo Disneyland was very busy while I was visiting, yet the attraction never had a line and the theater was less than a third full when I saw the show.


Last week the Oriental Land Company announced they were replacing the "Mickey Mouse Review" with "Mickey's PhilharMagic." I'm sure that many Japanese will be upset with this decision. After all, they've been seeing this show for 25 years -- they grew up with it. But the fact is, "PhilharMagic" will help boost attendance and will be far more popular than the "Mickey Mouse Review" of late.

And aren't you glad that "If You Had Wings" and "Dreamflight" were eventually replaced with "Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin?" Today's teenagers (and many adults) would feel like they were being tortured if they had to experience those very dated attractions.


Walt Disney said, "Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world." This statement, of course, applies to all Disney parks. Growth and change are seldom easy, but they're necessary to keep the guests coming back.

I grew up going to Disneyland. I've seen this park evolve dramatically over the last fifty years. Did you know that brassieres were once sold on Main Street and there was a "Bathroom of the Future" in Tomorrowland? Thank goodness those gems are gone.

I know you can make the argument that I'm talking about "attractions" here and the Mary Blair tiles are a piece of art. But Disney has already made the decision to remove other pieces of her work. Take a gander at these before and after pictures of Tomorrowland in Disneyland. In my opinion, the new artwork is much more fitting of the new Tomorrowland theme. Mary Blair's artwork, as nice as it was, is no longer appropriate.



And Disney needs to update their resorts every bit as much as they do their theme parks. Here's what a Contemporary room looked like in 1971. Would you really want to stay in a room like this today? Maybe you would, but most people would not.


As I said at the beginning of this blog, I understand and respect the point of view that some things should be considered a part of Disney history and should be left untouched. But personally, I don't think the Mary Blair mural falls into that category and I still think it should be replaced. Change is necessary. If Disney didn't constantly update merchandise, menus, resorts, and rides, guests would stop coming.

But for all of you who think the mural should remain, I suspect you're going to get your way. First, I know of no plan to replace these tiles. I was just voicing my opinion, not repeating any rumor I've heard. And second, money is VERY tight at the moment. There is no financial benefit in removing the tiles. There's no payback. So I believe you're going to be able to enjoy them for many years to come.

Just for the record, I believe the Mary Blair tiles should be replaced with another tile mural. I think a 5-6 story tall Mickey Mouse on the south side of the elevators and Donald, Minnie, and Goofy gracing the other three sides would look fantastic.


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About November 2008

This page contains all entries posted to The β€œWorld” According to Jack in November 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

December 2008 is the next archive.

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